Racing: Formidable Falbrav warms up for Breeders' Cup Turf

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The Independent Online

Back here yesterday at the scene of Falbrav's latest triumph, Luca Cumani upped the ante. The reward for anyone who can persuade the five-year-old's joint-proprietors Luciano Salice, who bred him, and Teruya Yoshida, who bought into him 10 months ago, to keep their star in training next year has risen in 48 hours from one to four crates of champagne.

Perhaps frighteningly for any potential rivals, Cumani believes that there could be more to come from the massive, bull-like horse who so dominates the opposition with his very presence. "He is a late-maturing type and there is no reason to think he might not be better next year," said the Newmarket handler, "or certainly at least as good.

"And there would be no problem with his mind, either. He has run in eight Group 1 races this year, just about three weeks apart, and he hasn't turned a hair. And what also helps, given his preference for fast ground and the summer we have had, is that he seems to have been born under a lucky star."

Falbrav is due to retire to Shadai Stud in Japan next spring, where he will tryst with the finest geishas at a fee yet to be decided. That he would give further untold pleasure to thousands of racegoers should he remain at Bedford House will not really concern the Milanese and the Japanese who own him. But given the level of prize money at the top in races worldwide - he has already won nearly £3m and there is a purse of $2m (£1.2m) up for grabs at next month's Breeders' Cup Turf - perhaps the two wealthy businessmen should reconsider the sums. "Plans can be made," added Cumani, "but they should be fluid."

The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes hero, who beat triple Group 1 winning filly Russian Rhythm by a long-looking two lengths, emerged from his box yesterday morning with his bright bay hide duly undisturbed. "He's extremely well," reported Cumani. "His legs are clean, he ate up, went for a walk, had a roll, and went back and ate some more."

Falbrav will have to be supplemented for his chosen engagement at the Breeders' Cup meeting at Santa Anita and a heat-lamp and a selection of cosy duvet rugs are now part of his kit on the countdown to sunny California, to ward off the possible shivery effects of the British autumn.

"He clearly thrives in the warm," said Cumani, "and we will have to be satisfied that any change in the weather will not affect his form." The Turf, over 12 furlongs, rather than the Mile, over the distance of Saturday's triumph (his seventh at Group 1 level), is favoured by his trainer. "His optimum distance is probably 10," he said, "but if he's to get 12, it will be there, with the first half-mile downhill."

One of Falbrav's most serious Turf rivals, Sulamani, presented his credentials with a two-length victory in the Turf Classic at Belmont Park, New York, on Saturday night. The Godolphin colt's rout of five inferior rivals in the Grade 1 contest was no more impressive than it should have been but was the more meritorious for his having to recover from a bad stumble as he was winding up for the swing to the home turn.

The four-year-old clipped Sabiango's heel but quickly recovered his balance and asserted his class in the straight. Winning rider Jerry Bailey paid him due credit. "That was a very athletic and courageous performance," he said. "I've never before had a horse get back into a race after something like that happened."

Mamool, by comfortably beating Albanova yesterday under Frankie Dettori in the Europa-Preis in Cologne, his warm-up for the Melbourne Cup, brought Godolphin's top-level score to two for the weekend. But two of the blues' other flagbearers drooped badly: Dubai Destination, last in the QE II, ran like a horse who was hurting and Moon Ballad, last in the Jockey Club Gold Cup in New York, performed like one with mental problems as one-time Newmarket maiden winner Mineshaft had little more than an exercise spin to consolidate his Breeders' Cup Classic favouritism.

Continuing firm ground brought the withdrawal count for the Festival weekend to 51 here yesterday but one man perfectly happy was Marcus Tregoning, who produced St Leger runner-up High Accolade, a fast-ground specialist, fresh as paint to take the Cumberland Lodge Stakes. The Group 3 win continued a fine season for Martin Dwyer, who grabbed the initiative from the off.

"He has never made the running before," said the jockey, "but it was the obvious thing to do to avoid a sprint finish. I was able to fiddle about with the pace and he really enjoyed himself." Lisa Jones was another rider to shine, demonstrating why she is one of the current apprentice finds with a strong, skilful neck victory on Pagan Prince in the mile feature.

* Kieren Fallon intends to appeal against a recent one-day ban that would rule him out of action on Saturday, when the main meetings are Newmarket and Longchamp.