Beckett pays tribute as Simple Verse bows out after illustrious career
Simple Verse was hailed as "tough, talented and versatile" by trainer Ralph Beckett after his dramatic St Leger winner was retired on Saturday.
Owned by Qatar Racing, Simple Verse won twice at the highest level, following up her Classic victory at Doncaster in 2015 with success in the Fillies & Mares Stakes on British Champions Day.
Simple Verse became a first British Classic winner for her influential owners when defeating Bondi Beach by a head. However, celebrations were short-lived after she was controversially demoted to second for causing interference.
The result was reversed again following an appeal and Simple Verse went on to score in no uncertain terms on Champions Day at Ascot, a day sponsored by her owners.
Simple Verse would win just once more, benefiting from a break to capture last year’s Park Hill Stakes having previously been badly out of form.
Beckett said: “She has had various issues since the Gold Cup in June and, put simply, we've run out of time to get her ready for the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day.
“She was a terrific servant to all her connections. The highlight of her career was undoubtedly the 2015 St Leger, but to drop back to a mile and a half to win the Fillies & Mares five weeks later showed how versatile, as well as tough and talented, she really was.”
He added: “We will miss her, but look forward to training her progeny.”
Two of our greatest days
A €240,000 yearling buy by Qatar Racing’s manager David Redvers, Simple Verse made rapid progress as a three-year-old from winning an all-weather maiden at Lingfield in April, graduating to win the Group 3 Lillie Langtry at Glorious Goodwood before her two Group 1 triumphs.
Redvers said: “Simple Verse gave us two of our greatest days on a racecourse when becoming our first British Classic winner in the 2015 St Leger and following up in the Qipco-sponsored Fillies & Mares Stakes.
“She was a testament to Ralph Beckett’s enduring skills as a masterful trainer of Classic fillies and will make a tremendous addition to the broodmare ranks.”
The five-year-old Simple Verse retires to stud as the winner of six of her 15 races with a further five placed efforts. In total, she won £965,615 in win and place prize-money.
Classic caper: how Simple Verse won, lost, then won again
British racing fans are used to seeing horses interfered with and know, on the whole, the result tends to stay with the winning horse. That was not the case on St Leger day 2015.
Simple Verse’s rider Andrea Atzeni found himself boxed in on the rail as the race reached its climax. He cleared his way through by bumping Bondi Beach out of the way and, crucially, bumped the eventual second again on the run to the line, where a head separated them.
The drama then unfolded in the stewards’ room, where Bondi Beach’s jockey Colm O’Donoghue produced an eloquent and convincing argument as to why the result should be reversed. It was good enough to convince the stewards, who flipped the first two around.
The Simple Verse team appealed and were vindicated when she was reinstated as the winner after it was concluded her actions had not affected the result.
Afterwards, trainer Ralph Beckett said: "It's not quite the same, and it's never going to be. To have it taken away on the day was horrendous.”