Bailey swaggers as feud simmers

BREEDERS' CUP: Swinburn rides Halling in search of retribution as an American rival professes the supremacy of Cigar

RICHARD EDMONDSON

reports from New York

Walter Swinburn overslept the morning Shergar won the Derby but he was probably too angry to get his head down last night.

This afternoon "the Choirboy" goes head to head, as they say in these parts, with a man who greatly disparaged his skills at the Breeders' Cup two years ago. Halling takes on Cigar in the Classic, but, more tellingly, Swinburn tries to replace Jerry Bailey's words from whence they came.

Bailey is from JR Ewing country and he appears to have the same knack for making friends. In 1993 he won the Classic on Arcangues (he has won the race for three of the last four years) and then rubbished the riding technique of one of the men he passed, Swinburn on Ezzoud. "He was just kinda flopping around there," he said. This shocked many people including Pat Eddery, who thought it ugly that leading figures from the sport should be criticising each other.

By beautiful coincidence Swinburn may now be able to reply in an event that in great understated American fashion is being billed as the race of the decade. He knows, however, that his work is cut out.

"The American jockeys I've spoken to about Cigar have come up with descriptions like monster and awesome, which he is for sure," he said. "I've seen videos of Cigar but I hope I don't get to see much of him in the race and he'll be looking at Halling instead. It's going to be tough but if any horse can do it, it's Halling."

Swinburn has had no luck in the Classic before, returning from battle with the signs of spray over his features. "I've had a lot of dirt in my face in the Breeders Cup but I'm very happy with Halling," he said. "I've only ridden him twice and every time I've pressed the button I've got an answer. I've been very fortunate to ride some truly great horses and Halling definitely compares with them."

Bailey cannot be all bad. He has contributed purse winnings (and a car once) to the Jockeys' Guild Disabled Fund, yet he has also mastered the art of giving European observers a pain in the gullet. He has been under a television camera light for much of the time here this week, and some have felt that his performance and words have been far too close to the cocky.

It may be though that he has found a horse to back up the bravado. Cigar, for many in the United States, is the real deal (as they say), a horse to be mentioned in the same breath as Secretariat and Seattle Slew.

If he fails today, Bailey will be rigid with disappointment. "I wouldn't take anyone lightly but if Cigar runs like I expect him to run, nobody will beat me," he said. "If they do, it will shock me. He's been training well. I haven't got to the bottom of him yet, but if he gets beat, we will all be at the bottom."

Not least of Cigar's skills has been his ability to see off pretenders in various locations. As his exercise rider, Fonda Albertrani, says "He's just like a businessman with a briefcase getting off a plane, doing his job and then getting back on the plane."

Bailey himself thinks he has the opposition covered. "I haven't seen any new faces to worry about," he said. "We've gone round the country looking for new faces and we've not ducked anybody. We've run against all of the good horses that have wanted to run against us. I'd go anywhere to ride this horse, even the moon and back. Riding him is like getting in a car and having the accelerator stuck."

By the bare means of statistics, Cigar is already one of the great horses. He has won 11 in a row, more than even Secretariat ever achieved, and he is closing in on Citation's unmatched sequence of 16.

Victory here would make him the first major stakes-racing horse to go unbeaten in a year since Spectacular Bid in 1980. "You just don't see that," Bailey said. "Horses today don't last that long. Good horses, even great horses, get beat along the way. But he rises to the occasion."

Eighty horses have been beaten by Cigar along the streak and he now has the aura of a beast that is impossible to beat. Nick Zito, who takes him on with Star Standard, certainly thinks so. "I don't know what's more impossible," he said, "getting Brooke Shields to marry me or beating Cigar."

Suggested Topics
Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week