- Tom Marquand guided the pre-race favourite Big Evs to victory in California
- Owners Paul Teasdale named Big Evs in honour of his late friend Paul Evans
- Teasdale hailed Evans as a great man ahead of the first anniversary of his passing
Mick Appleby took a sip of champagne, Tom Marquand glugged down a bottle of water while Paul Teasdale sat back in his chair dumbfounded.
Three different reactions from the trainer, jockey and owner of Big Evs but they were united with one feeling: elation. Racing is unrivalled in its ability to turn fantasy into reality and the smiles of wonder on all three men confirmed they had been central to a story that will be told forever more.
The key facts were as follows: Big Evs, 5/2 favourite for the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, took bump as he left the gates but Marquand got him into a good position and then used Santa Anita’s bend as slingshot to send the little colt screaming up the straight like a bonfire night rocket.
Try as they might, fellow European raiders Valiant Force – the 150/1 winner of the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot in June – and Starlust gave vain pursuit but they couldn’t get close enough to Big Evs, who crossed the line with some daylight to spare.
But the bare facts, as always in this sport, do not accurately convey the full picture. Teasdale and his wife, Rachael, were overcome with emotion. This horse was named after his best friend, Paul Evans. Next week marks the first anniversary of his passing and what a way this was to honour his memory.
Tom Marquand guided favourite Big Evs to victory in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint
Trainer Mick Appleby celebrated the victory with a sip of champagne at Santa Anita Park
Rachael, left, and Paul Teasdale, second from right, named the horse in honour of their late friend Paul Evans, with next week marking the first anniversary of his passing
‘Paul was my friend of 40 years, we went racing together for 25 years,’ said Teasdale. ‘We really wanted this to be a great horse because he was a great man. He was a winner in life. This means everything. It’s what we are all about.’
For Appleby, this was his first trip to America since a stag party in Las Vegas two decades ago. He barely slept a wink on Thursday night, such was his excitement about what potentially lay in store, and he won’t sleep all weekend, either, after the greatest moment in his upwardly mobile career.
‘A small yard like this? We’re just over the moon,’ he beamed. ‘I’m grateful for the whole team. They all deserve it because they all work so hard. The race just went to plan.’
Then for Marquand, who rode with confidence, skill and power, he couldn’t comprehend his first Breeders Cup experience had ended in success. His faith in Big Evs – whose prime target next year will be the July Cup – was unshakeable but that alone doesn’t guarantee results.
‘I knew there would be a couple of them swinging at me late on but I wasn’t overly worried,’ he said. ‘There were another couple of gears left. One from one? It’s easy, isn’t it!’