Racing: Even Asmussen's record cannot stop Spinning World

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The Independent Online
Without the injured Singspiel the British Breeders' Cup challenge is unlikely to make much impression on the home team. However, as Richard Edmondson explains, France's Spinning World may win the Mile for team Europe.

While the crippled Singspiel is about to go under the scalpel's cold steel here in California there is little doubt among the local authorities that the emasculated British team he has left behind will be put to the sword in Breeders' Cup XIV today.

In truth, it was a slightly anaemic series even before Europe's virtuoso was sickeningly removed from consideration in a gallops accident on Thursday. He leaves behind colleagues with physical problems of their own.

Barry Hills's Royal Applause still bears the marks of his frenzied attempts to free himself from the claustrophobia of American stalls at the beginning of the week. Carmine Lake, who will be saddled by Peter Chapple-Hyam, is at least in one piece, but how long that condition will remain, with her knees as sturdy as meringue, is open to conjecture. Either will do well to make the frame in the Sprint.

John Gosden's Decorated Hero, for one, is in the pink, even if he is not expected to add to his medals in the Mile. This contest though does provide a sliver of hope for those banking on a European winner as Spinning World aims to go where other hot European favourites have been extinguished before. Rousillon, Warning, Zilzal and Mark Of Esteem make for quite a talented scrapheap.

Spinning World was second in this race last year as Cash Asmussen extended his disturbing Breeders' Cup log to 0 for 22. Cash considers his horse is now better, as he expects his record to be after today. "I hope his performance reflects my belief that he has come on since his three-year- old days," the American said. "He's stronger and more mature this year." Spinning World (8.40GMT) should reward that faith.

If there is to be a winner with a British connection, it is more than likely to be provided by Romford-born Pat Byrne, who saddles three favourites out of his Kentucky yard. All of them too have their weaknesses, however. Byrne's personal pick is Favorite Trick, who goes for an eighth consecutive victory in the Juvenile. Here, though, he faces D Wayne Lukas, whose mastery with two-year-olds is assessed by some to be at the expense of a horse's later career. "How are your four-year-olds?" someone is apocryphally meant to have asked the trainer. "What's a four-year-old?" was the reply. Lukas may now take his sixth juvenile with Grand Slam (9.15).

Byrne has Pat Day, the Breeders' Cup's most successful jockey, in his corner on Countess Diana in the Juvenile Fillies, but again Lukas looks dangerous. Love Lock (6.55), the filly he trains for Michael Tabor, will be a bigger price than the favourite, with whom her form is closely linked.

Byrne's third shot is with Richter Scale in the Sprint. However, the trend is for success to go to a West Coast runner, such as Elmhurst (7.30), who is also a closer like several other winners of the race. His trainer, Jenine Sahadi, won this event 12 months ago with Lit De Justice, and while this horse is not considered in his predecessor's class he is at least at the top of his game.

In 1984, at the first Breeders' Cup, Sahadi was working in the publicity department at Hollywood Park, which just shows that it is possible to emerge from the press box and make something of your life.

In the Distaff, Hidden Lake (8.05) is the form filly, even if she is not as extraordinarily named as other horses trained by John Kimmel such as Flat Fleet Feet and Bodacious Tatas.

There is a spiritless sensation about the Turf, now that the little big horse is no longer a consideration. Chief Bearheart (9.50) was rated by Singspiel's camp to be the greatest threat to their horse, so he is now the logical alternative.

And finally, America's richest race, the $4.5m Classic, appears to be a straight match between Skip Away (10.35) and Touch Gold. There have been spurious suggestions that whatever wins their head-to-head may go on to be branded the champion racehorse of the world. That figure may be in Los Angeles today but will not be under a jockey. He will be under anaesthetic.