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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower