Bullish Gosden starts to talk Turf

Richard Edmondson in Toronto finds hopes are rising for the British raiders
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The Independent Online
There were dangerous noises emanating from Woodbine yesterday, not all of them from the gun metal skies. Britain's trainers over here now believe Breeders' Cup XIII has matured into an event that suits them so snugly that defeat tomorrow would almost certainly signal the termination of any meaningful attempt on the series.

If the talk was confident it was also perilous as a record of three victories from 86 Breeders' Cup races testifies. There have been many more excuses, but at leaf-speckled Woodbine this week any additions have been hard to generate.

While reporters watched ink dribble down their notebooks yesterday, Michael Stoute marvelled in the dreadful weather he said was just like home. It was more reminiscent of Transylvania actually.

"It's always been difficult with our runners in California and Florida but I've been very happy with our forays in Canada," the Newmarket trainer said. "Coming into the same climate makes an enormous difference.

"The main criteria for this meeting is that the horse has got to be good enough. Although the team is small, some good quality horses have come here so I think the Europeans are entitled to be hopeful."

Stoute is represented in the Turf by Singspiel and Pilsudski, and while the former will be injected with Lasix the latter will run drug free. Pilsudski disseminated an enormous amount of energy in the Prix De l'Arc De Triomphe, but he has the example of Freedom Cry last year to suggest that a heavy day in Paris is not necessarily a bar to an outstanding performance over the Atlantic. "He had a very hard race in the Arc and that is a slight concern, but he's tougher than most so that's why we brought him," Stoute said.

"Singspiel always loses a little more weight that is normal on his journeys but he's putting it back. In general the conditions here are conducive to European success. It's a track which should suit any horse, and the ground should be ideal.

``Both mine have shipped well and I'm happy with the way they've settled in. They should both be very competitive. The only problem seems to be that I can't find an excuse."

As Singspiel exercised yesterday he was examined by his owner, Sheikh Mohammed, from a vantage point on the clockers' tower. The Sheikh was also able to admire the movements of Shantou, who has been allotted a little pony to keep him company.

The going tomorrow is expected to be just on the soft side of good, despite the sheets of rain that have falling across Toronto's flat-lands in the past few days. It is a wonder of Woodbine that no sooner have clay-dyed pools formed in the barn areas than the level appears to go down almost immediately.

John Gosden's interest level in the Breeders' Cup may shrink terminally if his Shantou, or one of the other European horses, does not receive a garland tomorrow. "My attitude would be that if we can't win both the Turf races then we're in trouble," he said. "Climatically and lay-out wise it very much suits our elite team.

"The turf course is the feature of the place, being outside the dirt track. It's the best turf course in North America for horses and it's very much to our advantage that it's just a one-turn mile. This is pretty much perfect for the European horses."

Shantou's form is closely tied in with another Turf participant, Henry Cecil's Dushyantor, but the little, lightly raced colt is thought to be rising to new peaks.

"My horse has improved a lot since the St Leger but then he has to as Dushyantor had the edge on us at a mile and a half that day and we beat him only with stamina," Gosden said. "They are two nice three-year-olds but I can never emphasise enough that I regard the Turf as a four-year- olds' event.

``I wouldn't be surprised to see them give sway to horses like Swain and Singspiel. But we won't embarrass ourselves, we'll leave that to the people from New Mexico."

As Gosden spoke, the pride of Ruisodo Downs was welcoming a new arrival to the facing Barn 14. Ricks Natural Star now has a rival in media terms - Cigar has blown into town.

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