Racing: Washington's dirt route leaves clear passage for Araafa

If George Washington wants to shoot at the moon, Araafa is more than happy to settle for a million dollars instead. Respectively the best milers of their generation in Ireland and Britain, their three meetings on the track have conclusively demonstrated the superiority of George Washington - not only to Araafa, as it happens, but to every other thoroughbred in Europe. After the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot last month, Jeremy Noseda strode over and shook Aidan O'Brien's hand. "The best horse won," he said warmly. Little could Araafa's trainer realise that he would soon be rewarded by a still more sporting gesture.

The decision to run George Washington in the Breeders' Cup Classic, first revealed in this newspaper 11 days ago, has given Noseda an unexpectedly clear run at the race for which the Irish champion, according to Ladbrokes, would otherwise be odds-on favourite. As it is, they make George Washington 10-1 to beat the American monster, Bernardini, over an unfamiliar surface and distance - and Araafa half those odds for the Mile.

Entries for the 23rd Breeders' Cup were published yesterday, and the team of 16 European candidates is predictably concentrated among the three turf races. In fact, George Washington apart, the only dirt runner at Churchill Downs on Saturday week will be Satulagi in the Juvenile Fillies' race. She does have an advantage over the Ballydoyle Goliath in terms of her family tree - which is dirt, root and branch - but otherwise her trainer, Stan Moore, has only her fourth place in the Fillies' Mile to load into his sling.

That race was won by Noseda, with Simply Perfect, and was his fourth Group One success of the campaign. Given that he has run a total of 75 horses on the Flat this year, that is a phenomenal return. To put it in context, Mark Johnston has called upon 206 different runners, Richard Hannon 192, Mick Channon 171, and Barry Hills 165. They have mustered one Group One each.

Noseda's Breeders' Cup record to date is short but sweet: Majors Cast was fifth in the Mile at Belmont 12 months ago, and Wilko rallied to win the Juvenile in Texas the previous year. And he certainly sounds optimistic about Araafa, who will be ridden by the local ace, John Velasquez.

"I was delighted when I heard about George Washington going for the other race," he admitted yesterday. "Araafa's run at Ascot was the best of his life. If George Washington hadn't been there, Araafa would have been getting a lot of accolades and going to the Breeders' Cup with a favourite's chance. I do feel this horse has all the right attributes needed to run well, and I'm actually happier with him now - with the way he's training and with his general condition - than I was before Ascot. I think he's made for racing in America, and would be very hopeful so long as he travels well and gets a good draw."

Noseda will give Araafa a final piece of work on Saturday, and the colt will fly out with the other British runners the next day. That precious cargo will also include the shortest-priced raider of all in Ouija Board, 7-4 favourite with Coral to retrieve the Filly & Mare Turf crown she surrendered last year.

Durable as she is, those odds take little account of an arduous schedule this year. "Dubai in March does seem a very long time ago," Lord Derby, her owner, said. "We were treating that as the tail-end of the previous year, and thought she would have a nice long break after that. But things didn't work out that way, and it has been pretty much non-stop since. She does seem to thrive on it, though, and Frankie Dettori said she felt as good as ever when he rode her work last week."

Dettori apparently tends to address him as "Lordy". The Italian may not be on such affectionate terms with everyone in Louisville, where his wild ride on Swain in 1998 is still remembered. The last time the Breeders' Cup was staged here, in 2000, the raiders went even closer in the Classic through Giant's Causeway, and O'Brien would be overjoyed to go one better with George Washington.

O'Brien still has strong chances on the grass, with Scorpion confirmed for the Turf and Aussie Rules, Ad Valorem and possibly Ivan Denisovich in the Mile.

"Aussie Rules looked a different horse in the blinkers when he won at Keeneland last month," O'Brien said. "It's in his favour too that he has a jockey who knows him now in Garret Gomez. When he got to the front, this horse used to wait on horses, but he seemed to concentrate more there. Ad Valorem also ran well at Woodbine last time, he lost a shoe and finished real well.

"Scorpion split a pastern in the spring and while it healed perfectly, he barely got back in time to run at the Curragh the other day. He ran a lovely race on ground he would have hated, and we have been delighted with him since."

Chris McGrath

Nap: Pilca

(Taunton 5.10)

NB: Hawridge King

(Taunton 3.10)

News
US comedian Bill Mahr
people
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Sport
football
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
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: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Ashdown Group: PHP Web Developer / Website Coordinator (PHP, JavaScript)

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: PHP Web...

Recruitment Genius: Estates Projects & Resources Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in London, Manchester, Br...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us