Although Dayjur was more famously known for his bizarre defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint of 1990, his performance in the Sprint Cup earlier that year was arguably one of his best.
Drawn in stall 7 and sent off the 1/2f, Willie Carson broke well on Dayjur and bagged the stands side rail. Todd, who had beaten Dayjur at Newbury earlier that year, tried to go with the Major Dick Hern trained colt early, as did the French challenger, Ron’s Victory. However, it was apparent after a furlong that they didn’t have the pace to go with the favourite, who was seemingly still in second gear. The recalcitrant Dead Certain had cried enough at halfway, throwing her had about and tailing herself off. At the two furlong pole, it was clear that Carson had his rivals cooked, except for one, Royal Academy. The Vincent O’Brien trained colt had won the Group 1 July Cup on his previous star and he was considered the only sprinter in Ireland or the UK who was capable of challenging the great Dayjur. John Reid, who had ridden the colt on all of his previous five starts, appeared happy to let the race unfold in front of him in the early stages. However, one by one, the rest of the field waved the white flag as Dayjur poured the pressure on up front, while Reid was still faced with a wall of horses. Carson kicked clear on the Hamdan Al Maktoum owned superstar and it proved a decisive move as Reid got into the clear with about 300 yards to run. Slowly but surely, Royal Academy started to reel in Dayjur but the bird had flown, so to speak. Carson nudged his mount out under a hands and heels ride to win by 1.5L from a somewhat unlucky Royal Academy.
Victory in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp on Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe day soon followed, before he jetted across the Atlantic to contest the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. His old foe, Royal Academy, was stepped up in trip in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, a race he won under a great ride from Lester Piggott. However, what happened earlier on the card would go down as one of the most iconic and extraordinary moments in our great sport’s history. In truth, nothing went right for Dayjur on this occasion. He was drawn wide, missed the break a touch, got hassled on the lead having used up a lot of petrol to get across into a decent position. Despite all that, he still found himself in front 50 yards from the line and seemingly getting on top until he jumped a shadow and handed the race to Safely Kept.
While it’s hard to forget what happened at Belmont, let’s try and remember that Dayjur gifted us with one of the most devastating sprinting displays in racing history. Will Harry Angel do the same on Saturday? Let’s wait and see.