She was gold standard
Gary McKenzie pays tribute to Goldikova
Top miler Goldikova has died at the age of 16. The Freddie Head-trained mare was a bona fide superstar. She won 17 of her 27 races, and 14 of those were at Group 1 level.
She was possibly unlucky not to have had a Classic on her CV having stumbled out of the stalls in the French Guineas of 2008. Whether she would have beaten Zarkava that day is debatable. Zarkava had her measure again in the Prix de Diane but our girl probably didn’t truly stay ten furlongs.
That was her last defeat of her three-year-old season as she went on a four-race winning sequence culminating with the first of her three wins in the Breeders Cup Mile.
Her best performance from a ratings perspective was as a four-year-old in the Jacques Le Marois, where she was six lengths clear at the line. Olivier Peslier, her jockey that day (and in all of her races), said that “she just took off and her acceleration made me feel like a Formula One or a Moto GP guy. For a moment I was Valentino Rossi when I rode her.”
That acceleration was vital when winning her next two Breeders Cups. Drawn wide both times, she also had to swing wide into the straight. But once there she flew past her rivals. She failed by just a length to win a fourth title but was inducted into the US Racing Hall Of Fame such was her record across the Atlantic
She won the Falmouth Stakes, Prix du Moulin, Prix de la Foret, and a thrilling Queen Anne Stakes, where she held off the late surge of Paco Boy.
She was still winning Group Ones at the age of six with her second Prix D’Ispahan and her FOURTH Prix Rothschild. She earned over four million pounds.
But it was more than the wins and prize money. It was the manner of her wins. The way she travelled through her races before being let loose in the final furlong would quicken the pulse. But she was also so popular. And she held a special place in the hearts of French racegoers. I will leave the last word to Monsieur Peslier:
“The Marois was special because it is extremely rare in France to have people go to the races to support a champion like that, fans who just wanted to see her win. They cheered and applauded in a way you get more often in England, it is not really in the French psyche.”