Mike Cattermole looks ahead to the action at the Breeders' Cup and expects Enable to provide Khalid Abdulla with an overdue Turf success.
GO ENABLE AND EUROPE AT BREEDERS’ CUP 35!
This end-of-year American-based racing extravaganza has become a bit bloated, but there is something about it that still appeals to me - ever since the inaugural meeting at the now defunct Hollywood Park back in 1984 when one John Gosden, then based locally, sent out Royal Heroine to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Like the Ryder Cup, it becomes about the Europeans this weekend and there is always hope that a few of them can “kick ass” in the home team’s own backyard, coupled with the fear that it is one race too many.
That was certainly the case when Dancing Brave could manage only fourth in the Turf back in 1986. Taking horses across the globe was in its infancy in those days and Guy Harwood admitted to me years later that the Brave was suffering from dehydration when he ran.
Much has been made of the fact that no Arc winner has gone onto win at the Breeders Cup in the same year but, in truth, not that many have tried.
Only Sakhee has attempted to follow up in the Classic and, by golly didn’t he have a go as he succumbed by a whisker to Tiznow! The others, like Enable, have all attempted the Turf.
Trempolino was second in 1987, Saumarez fifth in 1990 (to In The Wings who was fourth behind him at Longchamp), Subotica fifth in 1992, Carnegie third in 1995, Dylan Thomas eighth in 2007, Golden Horn second to Found in 2015 and Found was third when going back Stateside as the Arc heroine herself a year later.
So, a bit of a mixed bag overall.
Enable’s light campaign going into it this time will probably work in her favour and she is confidently expected to make history as it is hard to see anything in the line-up that can get near to the best form she has shown.
Waldgeist, Magical, Talismanic and Hunting Horn were all behind her at Longchamp and the first-named has not been berthed with the easiest of draws, either.
Some may wonder about the sharp track and although Enable is a big filly with a huge stride, she is also incredibly athletic as she showed when winning the Cheshire Oaks around one of our tightest circuits last year.
So, 32 years on from Dancing Brave, Khalid Abdulla is poised to set the record straight and win the Turf – at last.
FILLY AND MARE REMATCH
Wild Illusion has been favourite for this race ever since her success in the Prix de l’Opera over a mile and a quarter when she defeated old rival Magic Wand by a length to make it 2-1 in their head-to-head.
The Godolphin filly, who is very effective when ridden handily, has a nice draw in three to take up a good position early but has to go an extra furlong here compared to Longchamp and Goodwood where she had won the Nassau Stakes.
Interestingly, over a mile and a half, Magic Wand had beaten Wild Illusion by four lengths in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot when the Aidan O’Brien-trained filly was ridden more prominently than she has been on her last two starts.
Magic Wand is drawn 10 of the 14 runners here, however. In truth, there probably isn’t a huge amount between them on ability. Wild Illusion was always holding Magic Wand in the Opera but the O’Brien filly came from behind there and is as big as 8-1 in places.
That’s a fair each-way bet.
Freddie Head is the man for the Mile, having won it three times as a trainer with Goldikova and twice as a jockey with Miesque.
Polydream has had a light campaign but always with this as the long-term target. Brilliant in the Maurice de Gheest, she had no luck at all in the Foret but was spared a hard race. Expert Eye has a chance, too.
Roaring Lion had it all do anyway in the Classic – before he was handed a low draw. He will have sand kicked in his face and we will have to see how he responds. His is an all-turf pedigree… but so too was Sakhee’s. Let’s hope he returns safely.
Thunder Snow could go okay if he gets away quickly from his inside draw and he absolutely demolished last year’s Classic third West Coast in the Dubai World Cup. The way Saeed Bin Suroor is going right now, don’t be surprised if he is right in the mix.
Accelerate has been a revelation since being upped in trip. He has run in the last two renewals of the Dirt Mile but he has a wide draw to overcome.
I like Catholic Boy, trained by the up and coming Jonathan Thomas (former assistant to Todd Pletcher), who easily defeated Mendelssohn in the Travers at Saratoga. He looks to be peaking at the right time in a wide-open race.
ARCHIE WATSON ON THE VERGE
Archie Watson has recently passed the £1m prize money mark in just his second full season of training and he could be on the verge of a maiden Breeders Cup win, too, in Friday’s Juvenile Turf Sprint with Soldier’s Call.
The way the son of Showcasing blitzed them for speed in the Flying Childers at Doncaster was highly impressive and then he was able to lock horns with none other than Battaash - and finish in front of him - in the Prix de l’Abbaye. He is an exceptionally fast two-year-old.
Nicely drawn in two, there is a chance that the others will not see which way he is going. Sergei Prokofiev, however, is highly respected. He is likely to be held up off what will be a strong pace and Ryan Moore will need a bit of luck to weave his way through to get in a late challenge.
Also on Friday’s card, Jaywalk looks a decent bet at around 6-1 to take the Juvenile Fillies on the dirt for trainer John Servis and jockey Joel Rosario.
Rosario was on board when she romped home by the best part of six lengths in the Grade One Frizette at Belmont in early October, although that was on fast and who knows how the forecast showers will affect the surface.
Rosario has made a big call to get off Sippican Harbor on whom he had won the Grade One Spinaway at Saratoga in September from Restless Rider, who went on to frank that form by taking the Grade One Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland next time.
Perhaps Rosario is aware that a line with Frizette third Cassies Dreamer gives Jaywalk the beating of Sippican Harbor and therefore Restless Rider, too.
Incidentally, California-based Brit Simon Callaghan, son of Neville, will saddle the favourite for this one in the powerful form of Bellafina, unbeaten in all three of her starts. She is certainly much respected.
MARCUS TREGONING BACK
Watching on from Cheltenham, it was good to see Marcus Tregoning end the season with something to look forward to in the form of promising two-year-old Mohaather, who won the race formerly known as the Horris Hill Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.
Like Soldier’s Call, Mohaather is also a son of Showcasing and produced a fine turn of foot to collar the Gosden-trained Azano, who had won his maiden in a good time at Yarmouth.
Notably, they were five lengths clear and as a late foal, there could be a lot more to come next season, either as a sprinter or Guineas prospect.
Amazingly, it was Marcus’s first Group winner for six years.
Also at Newbury on Saturday, Morando forced a dead heat with Young Rascal in the St Simon Stakes, to complete an across-the-card double for Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s King Power Racing, five minutes after Happy Power had gone in at Doncaster.
The tragic death of the billionaire businessman just hours later in that terrible helicopter accident at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium was just so shocking and sad.
I had been at Newbury on Friday to call home Good Birthday in the King Power colours and had reflected for a few moments then about what an emerging force they were in the bloodstock and racing world.
Represented by agents SackvilleDonald at the sales, King Power had spent millions over the past two or three years without seeking any publicity.
What will happen now is difficult to gauge. Meanwhile, Well Done Fox is due to carry the blue and white colours in the Juvenile Sprint on Friday.
BREEDERS CUP SELECTIONS:
FRIDAY: 7.21 SOLDIER’S CALL, 8.40 JAYWALK
SATURDAY: 6.04 MAGIC WAND (EW), 7.36 POLYDREAM, 8.56 ENABLE, 9.44 CATHOLIC BOY