Bermuda Thoroughbred Racing’s Johnny Barnes broke a two-year drought to win the Grosvenor Sport Handicap at Goodwood on Saturday and pick up a very handy prize of £65,000 (about $80,000).
The John Gosden-trained 13-2 shot beat Burnt Sugar by a length in the seven-furlong, Class 2 race at the prestigious Sussex course on England’s South Coast.
Jockey Robert Tart plotted a daring route up the inside rail with the five-year-old and managed to get a clear run just in time to steer Johnny Barnes to his first success since winning a group three race at Deauville, France, in August 2015.
“Because the course had such a hammering at its main meeting earlier this month, the ground was loose and rough, so he handled it well,” Gosden told sportinglife.com. “He has got a quick, digging action and it suited him and he got through on the rail. He never runs a bad race, but he usually runs up the backside of something, as he comes from so far back.
“He’s in the Ayr Gold Cup. He was unlucky in that last year and he finished about eighth, but never got a run so we will take a look at it again.”
Simon Scupham, who launched BTR, was understandably delighted with Johnny Barnes’s performance.
“I have been fortunate enough to have experienced many special moments in the sport and Johnny’s victory is up there with them,” he said. “I am only sorry that none of the owners could be there to experience this, and that includes myself.
“This is a horse who has a heart and spirit second to none, who gives 100 per cent whatever the circumstances. It was just wonderful to see him repay our faith in him by winning in such impressive fashion and on going that did not even have the word ‘soft’ in it.
“Hats off to the trainer and his team, and to the Highclere team, who have all been so patient with him. I must give a particular mention to the wonderful riding instructions John gave Robert Tart and the discipline he showed in carrying them out to the letter.
“Johnny is not only a special horse for us and the people of Bermuda, he is certainly a favourite in John Gosden’s yard and even has a following on social media. All being well, the Ayr Gold Cup appears a realistic target. He might even take in another valuable handicap in Ireland over their Champions weekend [September 9 and 10].
“If he goes to Ayr as planned, hopefully we will have a good turnout of owners!”
The Ayr Gold Cup, which takes place on September 23, is part of Scotland’s richest Flat meeting.