Racing: Motivator limps out of recovery mission

Breeders' Cup: Injury robs the hero of Epsom of his chance to rebuild his reputation with an historic coup

Britain's raiding party for Saturday's Breeders' Cup day in New York was reduced by one, and a highly significant one, yesterday. Motivator, the Derby winner and a leading candidate for the $2m Turf, was found to be lame after his final workout before leaving for America and will not race again.

The colt, trained by Michael Bell in Newmarket for the Royal Ascot Racing Club, has sustained a slight injury to his off-hind leg. "Very, very disappointing," Bell said. "He had worked very well, and we were so close to another holy grail.

"He was fine when he pulled up, and walked back to the yard. But in his box, we noticed he was a bit sore. The injury is only minor and should respond to rest and recuperation."

In three runs since Epsom, Motivator, who had looked so commanding that first Saturday in June, suffered two narrow defeats by Oratorio, followed by a fifth place in the Arc. He will now retire to the Queen's Royal Stud at Sandringham.

"If there is a bright side," added Bell, "it is the thought that if this had happened in the heat of the race, it would have been infinitely more serious and he might not have been coming home.

"In retrospect, the Derby may have flattered him and he may not have been the superstar we thought. But that day at Epsom, he was awesome."

When Papyrus, the Derby winner of 1923, went to New York for a £20,000 match-race with the American champion Zev, contemporary comment was damning. The venture had "too strong a resemblance to a prize fight", according to Edward Moorhouse, editor of the Bloodstock Breeders' Review, a man who also expressed the opinion "that it is the forerunner of similar enterprises is open to doubt".

So, no prescience there, then. On Saturday, 20 horses from these parts will be contenders at the 22nd Breeders' Cup fixture, an eight-race card offering purses of $14m. The feast of racing is a moveable one, and this year it is at Belmont Park, where Papyrus, all those years ago, was humbled by Zev.

Not many Derby winners have crossed the pond as three-year-olds; 45 years after Papyrus, Sir Ivor won the Washington International. The next three all took part at the Breeders' Cup: Dr Devious, fourth in the 1992 Turf; Galileo, sixth in the 2001 Classic; and High Chaparral, winner of the Turf three years ago.

Papyrus, bless him, was on a hiding to nothing. He had a seven-day sea voyage, albeit in luxury accommodation on the liner Aquitania, to cope with; was racing on dirt for the first time, on a track reduced to a mudbath by torrential rain; and his obdurate connections refused, against all advice, to equip him with racing plates with studs to help him grip.

Even in the modern era, with just a seven-hour flight to cope with, playing away is hard and European runners (Ryder Cup-style, the British, Irish and French start bonding in the face of American opposition) have notched just 28 victories in 153 previous Breeders' Cup races. Eleven of those have come in the 12-furlong Turf, including five of the past six and two of the previous three at Belmont Park, which is, with its wide turns and temperate climate, perceived as almost familiar territory.

Europe fields five on Saturday: Bago, Shirocco, Ace, Alkaased and the favourite, Azamour, winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in June. Bago, third in the King George and the Arc, should not be inconvenienced by the forecast easy ground.

One of four defending champions is Ouija Board in the Filly and Mare Turf, but although Ed Dunlop's darling is of stellar class her road here has been troubled. The very tough Mona Lisa makes some appeal but the answer may be Wonder Again, on her favourite track and ground.

The third of the races on grass, the Mile, has provided nine European wins, but this year looks between two of the home side, the mighty Leroidesanimaux, who is on a nine-timer and won his last race by nine lengths, and last year's winner, Singletary. If there is to be a surprise, it could come from Host.

The finale is the Classic, a 10- furlong dirt contest which has been prised away from the locals only once in 21 years, by Arcangues, although Ibn Bey, Swain, Giant's Causeway and Sakhee have all hit the post. Some of the best US names, Ghostzapper, Roses In May and Afleet Alex, are injured, leaving Rock Hard Ten, who made an impressive comeback after a summer break, the home side's best.

But it could just be Europe's year, with two high-class challengers in Aidan O'Brien's Oratorio and Luca Cumani's Starcraft, both hardy streetfighters trying the surface for the first time. If Starcraft, the powerful, professional heavyweight, adapts, he will go close. A New Zealand-bred, Australian-owned, Italian-trained, British-based globetrotter punching for $4m? Prizefighting indeed. Moorhouse will be spinning in his grave.

Stats Amazing: Breeders' Cup numbers game

BRITONS ABROAD: Ten British-trained horses have won Breeders' Cup races: Pebbles (Turf 1985), Sheikh Albadou (Sprint 1991), Barathea (Mile 1994), Pilsudski (Turf 1996), Daylami (Turf 1999), Kalanisi (Turf 2000), Fantastic Light (Turf 2001), Islington (Fillies & Mares' 2003), Wilko (Juvenile 2004) and Ouija Board (Fillies & Mares' 2004).

RIDER OF THE STORM: Frankie Dettori, with four winners, has the best record among European jockeys. He has six rides this year: Sundrop (F&M), Stellar Jayne (Distaff), Alkaased (Turf), Majors Cast (Mile), Jack Sullivan (Classic).

ODDS AGAINST: Arcangues, a 133-1 shot trained by André Fabre to win the 1993 Classic, is the longest-priced winner.

TWO TOGETHER: The only dead-heat in Breeders' Cup history came last year, when High Chaparral and Johar shared the spoils in the Turf.

BLANK LOOK: There have been three European whitewash years: 1989, 1992 and 1998, when the raiders' only place was Swain's third in the Classic.

EURO ZONE: The largest European presence was 26 at Churchill Downs in 1994, when Tikkanen (Turf) and Barathea (Mile) scored.

BETS OF THE DAY

Serious bet
My Will (Aintree, 3.20) is not the best of last term's novices, but not far adrift. Game, and a good jumper, the trip and ground suit.

Fun bet
Sobers (Aintree, 5.05). A bumper? The answer must be a cricketer. Sobers, nicely bred for the job, could bowl 'em all over.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game