Fran Berry column ahead of the Canadian International at Woodbine

Check out Fran Berry's latest blog ahead of the forthcoming action
Check out Fran Berry's latest blog ahead of the forthcoming action

Fran Berry is on his travels again with Thundering Blue set for his return to the top table in Woodbine's Canadian International on Saturday night.

It's another really exciting adventure with Thundering Blue this weekend as I fly out to Toronto on Friday lunchtime ahead of the Grade One Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine.

The race is due off at 10.41 in the evening UK time so hopefully I can make it a decent Saturday night for the horse's followers as it seems he's become quite popular.

This is a really big occasion for all concerned and it's great to have a horse of this calibre. Personally, it would be a dream come true to win as it's the kind of race you watch every year and hope to be involved with, so to go there with a live shout is fantastic.

Thundering Blue has done really well since winning out in Sweden at Bro Park, he's actually travelled better this time than he did going to Sweden as he could have taken things better than he did there, which bodes well given he was still able to win.

I've got a nice draw in stall two so should be able to get covered up and the likes of Funtastic and Tiz A Slam look like confirmed front-runners. Chad Brown has two in there including Focus Group who is on a hat-trick and you've got to have massive respect for everything he saddles, while Desert Encounter is obviously the other European challenger and he's very capable on his day.

But I've every confidence in my horse - I've said since the summer that I thought he was capable of winning at the highest level - and I'm really excited about getting back on him.

Fran Berry on Thundering Blue

Domestically, it's been a bit of a week of near-misses, with Almurr and Alfred Boucher both just edged out at Nottingham on Wednesday. The latter is still learning the job and there's more to come, while Almurr should be a sprint handicapper to have some fun with and is definitely capable of winning races.

Going back to last Saturday, it was nice to get another winner at Newmarket on Bella Ragazza. It was a career-best win for her and she showed a great attitude. There's more to come from her when she goes back up to 10 furlongs, especially with some dig in the ground.

Looking back to Arc weekend and it was clearly a tremendous performance from Enable and the whole of the Gosden team to win the big one again on the back of just one prep run on the all-weather this time. She had the ideal draw and got the ideal position under Frankie Dettori, as he always does, but she put daylight between herself and the rest in the straight which was impressive.

With the draw and the way the race panned out, James Doyle couldn't have done any more than what he did on Sea Of Class as if he'd tried to go forward he would have ended up really wide like Defoe and probably wouldn't have had any say in the finish at all.

Under the circumstances, there's no more that James could have done. A potential rematch next year would be fascinating as I honestly don't think we saw the very best of either filly on Sunday.

Another highlight for me watching it all was Mabs Cross winning the Abbaye, especially considering how gracious her connection were in defeat after the Nunthorpe at York. They got their just deserts here.

Onto Saturday's blockbuster clash in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes and Too Darn Hot does look a very worthy favourite. You'd have to respect the opposition but Too Darn Hot looks to have just been going through the gears and I think he's going to produce something special.

Too Darn Hot storms clear in the Champagne
Too Darn Hot storms clear in the Champagne

The Cesarewitch is the big betting race at Newmarket and one that catches my eye at a huge price is Top Tug.

He's come down the weights a little bit and showed up well in a Listed race at Chester last time. That was more like it after he was unsuited by 1m4f in a Group Three at Goodwood the time before and he's got some good form on the Rowley Mile in the book.

A case can be made for just about every Willie Mullins runner but the big one for me is Aidan O'Brien's Southern France, who was third to two quality performers in the St Leger at Doncaster.

He could be the class horse in the race and the 10lb he gets for being a three-year-old is clearly significant.


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