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)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
Life and Style
love + sex
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United 1 player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot