Michael Tabor insists Ballydoyle has its strongest hand yet for Breeders' Cup XVIII at Belmont Park in New York a week on Saturday and, yesterday, we learned a similar sentiment is emanating from the twin giant of the Godolphin camp.
If the great steamrollers of European racing are to be believed then this will be the year when the Americans finally realise there is more to racing than the hoofbeats between the Big Apple and California. Our boys are ready to rumble.
Godolphin's challenge is much bolstered, of course, by the inclusion of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner, Sakhee. It has yet to be decided whether the little big man runs in the Turf or the Classic, both of which look his for the taking. Yet, as history tells us, appearances can be deceptive at the Breeders' Cup.
"We have seen it all before haven't we, with horses like Dancing Brave," Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, said yesterday. "The difference is that this horse is not going to California off the back of a long, hard season. Sakhee will be running on the East Coast and he did not get going until high summer at Newbury, so it is not like he has been burned out.
"You cannot win a race like the Arc easily and he does give you everything, which is what you need at championship level, but in Sakhee, Fantastic Light, Noverre and Express Tour we have a rock solid bunch. On paper, and on balance, this is the strongest team we have ever had."
The Ballydoyle arsenal was strengthened yesterday when it was announced that Milan, the St Leger winner, had emerged as a contender for the Turf. Aidan O'Brien's colt will form part of a raiding party of seven from his yard, with stablemates Galileo and Black Minnaloushe to tackle the Classic.
The July Cup winner Mozart goes for the Sprint, unbeaten Johannesburg for the Juvenile, Sophisticat for the fillies' equivalent, and Bach will be aimed at the Mile.
O'Brien confirmed last week that Milan will stay in training next season as a four-year-old but was undecided on whether he would race again this term after finishing fifth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on heavy ground at Longchamp.
"He's a possible for the Turf now," O'Brien said. "Though he's by Sadler's Wells he needs good ground and he didn't get it in France. He's a big, strong horse and I think he came out of it well. Michael [Kinane] thought he was second-best on the day [in the Arc]. He should have stayed on the inner and not switched wide."
Sakhee's absence from Saturday's Champion Stakes at Newmarket means there are many horses crowding in for what could now prove to be a relatively easy picking for a Group One contest. Michael Stoute's representation in the race was shored up yesterday by the supplementation of Tough Speed at a cost of £24,000. He now joins the stable's No Excuse Needed, Medicean, Golan and Carnival Dancer in the £400,000 race.
The colt, noted working well on the Newmarket gallops recently, also has an entry in the seven-furlong Challenge Stakes run over a three-furlong shorter trip than the Champion on the same day. Tough Speed was one of two supplementary entries for the Champion Stakes, the other being Albarahin, the latter poised to join his stablemate Nayef in the line-up for the Newmarket showpiece.
Successful in the Group Two Prix Dollar at Longchamp last week, Albarahin is, like Nayef, in the ownership of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, but would be running on his own merits in the Champion, according to his trainer, Marcus Tregoning.Reuse content