Breeders Cup

Breeders Cup

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Queen’s Trust is my Breeders’ Cup nap

I love this time of year with all the big international events taking place, including the Breeders’ Cup.

There are nine brilliant races from Del Mar on Saturday night, and each one is going to prove very tough to win.

The draw is vital to the Europeans. Our runners need a low draw, whereas it’s not so important to the Americans since their horses tend to jump much quicker from the stalls.

When you’re drawn wide and jump slow, that’s when you have to take a pull and drop in.

I can’t wait to see how the action unfolds, and will focus on five races in this column.

Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint - 7.37pm

Lady Aurelia is a short-priced favourite, and justifiably so. She was fantastic to watch at Royal Ascot.

Marsha has some very good form too, including, of course, her victory over Lady Aurelia at York, and I wouldn’t worry about the fact that Luke Morris has limited experience of riding round there.

Luke rides every day of the week, and is used to fighting for his position in the early stages of a race. He’ll be fine.

Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf - 9pm

Queen’s Trust is my nap of the night. She has been specifically trained to repeat last year’s win in the the race at Santa Anita by Sir Michael Stoute.

She boasts a similar profile to Dank, who triumphed for Sir Michael four years ago.

Her trainer excels with this type of horse, and Frankie Dettori is in the saddle again. She is a big price at 10-1, and I fancy her strongly.

Breeders’ Cup Mile - 10.19pm

This is always a great race. The winner will have an abundance of speed and stay well. Luck in running will also play its part.

I can’t tell you just how quick they hurtle into the first bend. You have got to get there on the right leg. Failure to do so means you simply won’t win.

Ribchester will be popular with many, but I just don’t fancy him round there. He tends to grind out his races, and that’s not the style which you associate with the winner of this race.

I’m not sure which horse will win, but I think it’s a fair bet it will be trained in America.

Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf - 11.37pm

I would love to ride Decorated Knight. He’d be a great ride round there. He’ll have to be at his very best and Andrea Atzeni will have to be as brave as a lion, but I think they can do it.

Andrea has got to ride the horse for luck. They’re sure to go hard up front, and it could play into Decorated Knight’s hands if he gets lucky. I can just see him passing a few of the American stragglers on the bit down the back straight which will really help Andrea before he lets him go.

They said Decorated Knight wasn’t good enough to win an Irish Champion Stakes, and he proved them wrong.

Some will say he’s not good enough to win a Breeders’ Cup Turf, but he can silence his doubters once again. He is definitely improving.

Ulysses has a great chance, but he needs luck in running too. Highland Reel would also have leading claims.

However, I couldn’t say that Ulysses will definitely beat Highland Reel or vice versa. They are both around 9-4, while Decorated Knight is 10-1. At that price he has to be the bet.

Breeders’ Cup Classic - 12.35pm

I don’t fancy Arrogate. I saw him in a workout before the race last year, and he really took my eye.

I thought he’d win last year, but I haven’t seen him move like that since. Maybe he isn’t quite the same horse that he was.

The fact that his trainer Bob Baffert runs three others is definitely a warning sign. Surely he wouldn’t be running all those if he thought Arrogate couldn’t lose?

Roaring Lion doesn’t look a Guineas winner to me

The Racing Post Trophy is traditionally more of a Derby trial than a Guineas trial, and I will be surprised if the runner-up Roaring Lion wins the big race at Newmarket.

That’s not to say I wasn’t impressed with his Doncaster performance. I loved him, and believe that if he got another go at the race he would probably win it. He pounced, but didn’t win.

My feeling is that if Roaring Lion couldn’t beat a Derby horse, Saxon Warrior, in a Racing Post Trophy, he is unlikely to win the Guineas. Put it this way, I didn’t watch the finish of the race and say to myself “that’s going to be hard to beat in the Guineas”.

What about Saxon Warrior? I loved the way he put his head down and battled. He’ll probably win the Derby, but it’s very early days. There is a long winter ahead.

Aidan O’Brien is just so powerful. He has three of the first four in the betting for the Derby, and there are probably another three candidates at Ballydoyle that we don’t know anything about just yet. That’s how strong he is.

What a feat it was to break the record for Group and Grade 1 wins in a season with Saxon Warrior’s success.

It’s a brilliant achievement. Every year Aidan’s horses turn up on soft ground or hard ground and they keep on going.

Everybody knows he has the best horses in the world, but there is simply nobody better to train them than Aidan. He is the best.

Aidan is still very young, and could go on breaking records for another 20 years. Maybe the fact that he started so young is one of the reasons for his continuing success.

He is very open-minded and willing to change. There have been times when he has got the two-year-olds out and gone bang, bang, bang. Now he is looking for Derby horses, and some of his tend to need their first run.

He has different ways of doing things now as opposed to ten years ago, but all his methods work. He is a remarkable trainer.

Looking forward to reading Kieren’s autobiography

I was with Kieren Fallon at Ascot on British Champions Day, and it was great to see him in such good form.

Kieren is a bit like Peter Pan. He looks the same now as he did 20 years ago. Maybe a little rounder in the face, but essentially the same.

He’s happy now, and I’m glad for him. When you sit next to someone in the weighing room for 20 years you get to know them, and it’s great to see that he’s in a happy place.

None of us really know about all the controversy Kieren went through at various times in his career. What we do know is that if you put him on a horse he was different class.

Kieren loves horses, and I’m sure that will shine through in his autobiography, Form. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Newmarket should leave one track unwatered during summer

It was no surprise to see Newmarket, Leicester and Goodwood honoured at the Racecourse Groundstaff Awards for 2017.

All were thoroughly deserved, but I would like to make a plea to Newmarket where the July Course is concerned.

Michael Prosser and his team invariably do a fabulous job there, but I beg them to leave one of the two courses unwatered during the summer.

You only need a sharp shower in the middle of July, and you’ve got soft ground. If that happened surely it would make sense to use the unwatered track where the surface would be perfect for everyone.

You’d get more longevity out of the two tracks by doing it this way as well.

The team at Leicester also do a great job. There is always plenty of grass there, and that’s why the course attracts plenty of runners. The award for best dual-purpose track is well deserved.

Goodwood also received recognition for the way they managed to complete the five-day Glorious meeting after torrential rain turned conditions heavy early on.

It should shock nobody that they coped so well because they’ve been fortunate to have had Seamus Buckley, the best in the business, in charge of the course for so many years.

I went to Seamus’s retirement lunch last month, and it was a real privilege to be part of it all.

Seamus did a great job for years, and his successor Ed Arkell will also do well. Goodwood couldn’t have picked a better replacement.

Ed is a good fella, and very good at his job.