Pessoa's pursuit goes off the rails

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

It was all or nothing for Brazilian Rodrigo Pessoa heading into his final jump.

He and horse Rufus came up short, taking down the rails after racing toward the last leap in an effort to catch winner Ian Millar in yesterday's $200,000 CN Reliability Grand Prix.

Pessoa, making a return to Spruce Meadows at the National this week after a three-year absence, knew quickly his gamble wasn't going to pay off.

"At takeoff, I was thinking, 'If he clears this, he's going to be a really good guy,' " Pessoa said after earning $20,000 for a fourth-place finish.

"At the last stride, I knew it was looking flat. When he took off, as soon as he left the ground, I thought, 'Well, if he clears this one, he'll get an extra stack of carrots.'

"I knew it was a hard jump for him at that speed, to come in like that."

The last rider to come through the clock tower at the International Ring, Pessoa had no choice but to speed through a short straightaway to the final obstacle thanks to the 43.373 time posted by Millar two outings earlier.

"He knew the risk when he did it," Millar said, learning Pessoa posted a time a little less than a second quicker than his own only to lose because of the dropped rail. "But if he'd added a stride, he might be a second slower. That's your gamble."

Undaunted by the result and still wearing a smile, Pessoa wondered what might have been.

"If I would have cleared it, I would have got the time and been the hero. Instead, we hit the last one," he said.


Videos

Photos