Gutsy Barizan would not be denied his moment of glory at Punchestown

Fri 1 May 2020

It is 10 years since Barizan finally secured a deserved Grade One gold in the Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at Punchestown.

Renowned for wearing his heart on his sleeve, Barizan danced every dance in spring 2010, taking in Cheltenham and Aintree before rolling on to Ireland.

Bought for £26,000 after winning once in six starts for John Oxx, Barizan had already provided a decent return in winning five of his first seven starts for Williams, but he lined up at Cheltenham off a 125-day break and was easy to back at 14-1.

However, he belied those odds as he tried to make every yard of the running in the Triumph Hurdle, building up a huge lead that he held jumping the second-last, before starting to tire on the run to the last.

A mistake at the final flight checked his momentum and allowed Soldatino to snatch a heartbreaking victory near the line.

Barizan did not quite up the same kind of in-race advantage at Aintree, but he did indeed try to do it the hard way again, with 40-1 outsider Orsippus scuppering his hopes that time.

Trainer Evan Williams then took the bold decision to have a crack at the final spring festival, sending Barizan to Punchestown in search of that elusive Grade One strike.

Turning out just 16 days after that Aintree run, Barizan once again took the bull by the horns, carving out a 10-length lead – only this time he did not surrender.

In fact he pulled further clear to win by 12 lengths, a victory that delighted Williams.

He recalled: “It was great to get his Grade One at Punchestown as he’d run so well in defeat the previous twice.

“We were getting plenty of stick for going there as he’d had a hard race at Cheltenham and then another tough race at Aintree. He was just such a tough horse though.

“We were coming under pressure as he’d run so well but left nothing behind in his previous two runs and if it had gone wrong, I suppose it would have been trainer error.”

Barizan struggled to make his mark the following year, but a brief sojourn over fences in the 2011/12 campaign did produce two wins while he had one final hurrah for Williams when running out a typically gutsy winner of the Swinton Hurdle in 2013.

“He was just one of those horses that always stepped up, he was so tough and did it the hard way,” said Williams.

“He was a great horse for us.”

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