jockey Rosie Napravnik piloted overwhelming favourite Untapable in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita Park – then revealed she was pregnant and would be retiring.
Napravnik, the only woman to have won the Kentucky Oaks, which she has done twice, stunned the crowd shortly after the race when she announced she was quitting the sport as she and her husband, trainer Joe Sharp, were starting a family.
“I’ve been planning the retirement since I found out that I was pregnant,” Napravnik later told reporters. “My plan was to wait until after the weekend and I don’t know if I had won on another horse if I would have said anything. This filly has just been very special to me, and it’s a very special way to go out. My husband Joe and I are going to be starting a family. His career is brand new and thriving, so it’s kind of good timing. He’s going to step into the limelight and I’m going to step out. I couldn’t think of a better way to go out.”
Asked whether this would be a permanent retirement, Napravnik smiled: “It’s indefinite. I’m not thinking about a comeback in ten months, but I can’t promise to stay off a horse forever.”
In the Distaff, restricted to fillies and mares, three-year-old Untapable surged past Iotapa from the outside on the final turn to win by one and one-quarter lengths and improve to eight wins in 11 starts.
“She was unbelievable today,” said Napravnik, 26. “She broke well. We settled into a good spot, and down the backside I could not have had more confidence.
“She was just very powerful underneath me, and she started to take me when she was ready to move. We were wide around the second turn, but I was just sitting on go, and she was waiting on my call. She just ran excellent today.”
In the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, Menorah gave the Philip Hobbs team a second consecutive Saturday big-race triumph.
Successful with Wishfull Thinking in the Old Roan Chase the previous weekend, Menorah (8-1) sprang a small surprise in the staying feature. Silviniaco Conti, the evens favourite, set out to make all but was collared at the second-last fence and faded out of contention.
Richard Johnson then drove the nine-year-old Menorah out to score by four lengths from Taquin Du Seuil, who just pipped Double Ross for second spot.
Paddy Power then gave Menorah a quote of 10-1 for the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Hobbs was at Ascot, where he said: “Delighted. He’s a fantastic horse, he’s a Cheltenham Festival winner and he’s won plenty of other races.
“I think it’s the first time he’s won over three miles. I suppose you have to think about King Georges and races like that.”