Racing: Moore the minnow swims with sharks

Satulagi carries the flag for the small brigade

The focus at the Breeders' Cup meeting is understandably on the big fish, particularly the Ballydoyle operation and the Maktoum brothers and the clash between their super-stars George Washington and Bernardini. But don't forget the minnow among piranhas.

Stan Moore, sometime journeyman jump jockey and hitherto unheralded trainer, is joining Saturday's £20 million party. From his days on £2 a week as a downtrodden apprentice in Ireland it has been a long road and, he admits, an unlikely destination. "You always hope," he said, "but never in a zillion years did I think something like this would happen."

The 45-year-old Ulsterman has charge of Satulagi, a rare European challenger for the Juvenile Fillies' contest. The talented two-year-old is owned by a Dubai-based Scot, Jim Hay, who made his fortune in the construction industry and last year invested in the famous Uplands stables in Lambourn, from where multiple champion jumps trainer Fred Winter once sent out legends such as Bula, Crisp, and Pendil.

Moore moved in as the trainer in January, an opportunity embraced with relish and repaid with success. This season has proved his best, and he is adamant that this week's venture to Churchill Downs with Satulagi, fourth in the Group One Fillies' Mile at Ascot on the latest of her nine runs, is not a tilt at a windmill.

"She is a real battle-hardened filly," he said. "She'll stay the mile easily and goes on fast ground. It is a big ask, but she won't be disgraced.

"Her form is rock-solid, and at Ascot she was on ground much softer than ideal. But the great thing about her is her mind. Nothing gets to her and she's as tough in her attitude as they come. When you get a filly like that, they're diamonds."

Satulagi, a bargain $70,000 (£37,000) yearling, was the first horse Moore bought at an American sale. Coincidentally, her sire Officer and grandsire Bertrando both ran in the only two Breeders' Cup Juveniles to have been won by European challengers. Officer was fifth, as favourite, to Johannesburg in 2001, and Bertrando second to Arazi 10 years earlier.

The filly, who carries the colours of Hay's Indonesian-born wife, Fitri, will fly out to Kentucky today with the rest of the British contingent. "We'll do some work to get her used to the conditions during the week, spin her round a bend and get her used to jumping from the stalls with the bell," said Moore. "She should handle the surface OK, though; she's been placed at Lingfield and her sire was a good dirt horse."

Satulagi, whose name means "one more" in Indo-nesian, will be ridden by John Egan, also making his Breeders' Cup debut. "People have wondered perhaps why we haven't booked a local rider," said Moore, "but John knows her and he's hacked it with the best all over the world."

Moore, from Dromore in Co Down, began his racing life with Paddy Prendergast. "That was some tough station," he added. "I'm not sure many lads around today would survive it, but I suppose it's served me well. It shows you can get on in life without a silver spoon."

The Juvenile Fillies' with a purse of $2m (£1.54m) is the opening contest on the eight-race card. The European challenge for the Breeder's Cup is 16-strong, but playing away is hard and the team (Ryder Cup-style, the British, Irish and French start bonding against the Americans) have notched just 29 victories in 161 races. Most European success has, unsurprisingly, come in the three races run on grass: the Mile, the Turf and the Filly & Mare Turf. The Mile has provided nine wins for the raiders and this year sees their strongest numerical representation, with seven: Araafa, Librettist, Echo Of Light, Rob Roy, Sleeping Indian, Aussie Rules and Ad Valorem.

Twelve successes have come in the 12-furlong Turf, including six of the past seven. Hurricane Run, Scorpion and Red Rocks bid to extend the sequence, and in the female equivalent, which has gone to Europe in three of its five runnings, Ouija Board will be trying to repeat her win of two years ago.

But the race of the meeting is the finale, the $5m Classic, and the face-off between the pride of Ballydoyle, George Washington, and Sheikh Mohammed's US phenomenon, Bernardini, going for a seven-timer and backed up by two more top-notchers, Invasor and Lava Man. The 10-furlong dirt contest has been prised away from the locals only once in 22 years, by Arcangues in 1993.

EUROPE'S BEST HOPES

GEORGE WASHINGTON

It is the boldest of calls to switch the supremely talented but devilishly enigmatic three-year-old from the penalty-kick of the Mile. Another from Ballydoyle, Giant's Causeway, hit the bar in the Classic; it will be a sensation if this one can put one in the net.

OUIJA BOARD

Britain's globetrotting darling, trained by Ed Dunlop, has raced in seven countries, won in three and is coming to the end of her distinguished career. Won the Filly & Mare Turf two years ago in Texas and finished second last year in New York.

SCORPION

Last year's St Leger winner, a Turf contender, suffered an injury during the winter but made a splendid comeback on his seasonal debut at the Curragh three weeks ago. Aidan O'Brien's charge ran out of puff only at the end on ground far too soft.

ECHO OF LIGHT

Patience has been the watchword with the four-year-old, Sheikh Mohammed's favourite from the sole crop of ill-fated Dubai Millennium. On an upward curve, three from four this year, including on dirt at Lingfield.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower