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French Filly Palomba Bites Rival Jockey in Tooth-and-Nail Finish

Horse's TeethThere are numerous dangers that trouble the safety of the humble jockey, but usually being bitten by a horse is not that high up on the list.

But that was exactly the fate that met Francois-Xavier Betras as he guided Lucky Lycra to what he assumed to be a routine victory at Maisons-Laffitte on Wednesday.

The pair were cruising in the final straight before a fast-finishing Palomba got into the frame with a powerful surge.

Lucky Lycra stayed on however, so Palomba decided to take matters into her own hands – or should that be teeth – by twice sinking her chops into the right arm of Bertras.

The hilarious incident was caught on camera by Equidia, a French horse racing media firm, in which Palomba can clearly be seen looking to derail her rival.

Maybe she was slightly perturbed having been sent off as a 3/5 favourite that she was being so comfortably outpaced, but in the end it meant for very little as Betras carried on undiminished and Lucky Lycra took the tape in routine fashion, seemingly unflustered by her rivals’ antics.

“It was a pretty strange sensation because the filly came alongside and then ducked her head at me while in full flight. It was quite amazing,” Betras reflected afterwards.

“We watched the race back with the stewards and you can see she has me by the arm three times – it was pretty funny to see.

“My filly didn’t flinch or break stride but she was quite surprised and didn’t understand exactly what had happened. You could say we were as shocked as each other.”

Biting Back

Horse Wearing Muzzle

Given that horse racing is a sport governed by the behaviour of unruly animals – and that’s just the jockeys, it will perhaps come as no surprise to learn that this isn’t the first time there has been a high-profile biting incident out on the track.

Indeed, even the offspring of one of the classiest performers of all-time can sink their teeth in during the heat of battle….

Eminent is a colt born from the loins of the mighty Frankel, but he never quite had his daddy’s turn of pace.

He did win the Craven Stakes at the age of three, but he ever kicked on and arguably his most famous moment came in the 2017 Coral-Eclipse. Feeling the pace, Eminent attempted to take a chunk out of Decorated Knight as he passed.

Happily nobody was hurt, and Ulysses went on to win by a canter with the son of Frankel back in fifth.

Given the nature of biting out on the track, you might expect the main suspects to be colts and unruly two-year-olds who lack experience in racing other horses.

So it was quite a surprise when Arcadian Heights, a future Ascot Gold Cup winner no less, showed his naughty side by nibbling on Luchiroverte as the winner showed the gall to pass him on the home straight.

Amazingly he did it again just four starts later, with Drum Taps taking the punishment on this occasion. Unsurprisingly, the BHA insisted that Arcadian Heights wore a muzzle in his next outing.

And he wasn’t the first big race champion to show a darker side. Parish Hall won the Dewhurst in 2010, but as time passed so to did his ability to contend – and behave impeccably out on the track.

It all came to a head in the Silver Stakes of 2015 when he tried to take a chunk, unsuccessfully it should be added, out of Postulation.