Racing: Lure tempted by Sussex challenge: America's champion will come to these shores to explore the limits of Europe's finest milers

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The Independent Online
EVEN when Britain gets routinely thrashed at the Breeders' Cup series there are plenty who come away with the unswerving opinion that Albion has the best horses, the best trainers and the best jockeys in the world. We are better, the argument goes, but they have home advantage.

In a month's time, jingoism may have to be subdued, as America, in the shape of champion miler Lure, is coming to these shores in an attempt to show its superiority at the November jamboree has more to do with ability than geography.

Lure, who is trained by 'Shug' McGaughey, has won back-to-back (as they say in those parts) Breeders' Cup Miles and will now try to advertise his skill by taking on probably the finest field ever assembled for the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on 27 July. He booked his ticket at Atlantic City on Sunday by beating Fourstars Allstar, who himself showed that American horses could win in the Europe by capturing the Irish 2,000 Guineas three years ago.

If Lure, who has now earned close on dollars 2.5m ( pounds 1.65m), is to mirror that Group One achievement, he will have to beat more formidable rivals comprehensively. Barathea, Bigstone, Grand Lodge and Mister Baileys are already on the cast list, while Turtle Island, Las Meninas and Sayyedati are tantalising names in the pending tray.

There is a light irony that as Lure prepares to steal away with one of Britain's prestige races he will be boarding with, as the interviewers call him, the most English of trainers. 'Hopefully he'll be going to John Dunlop's about four or five days before the race,' McGaughey said yesterday. 'I'm not really aware of Goodwood so I'll have to do all his preparation here and rely on Mr Dunlop when I get there. I might let the horse gallop fast round the track one day, but that would be it.'

McGaughey recognises the severity of the task. 'It's going to be difficult because we've got to come a long way,' he said. 'The European horses are up against it big time when they come here and now it's the other way round.'

But at the same time he feels he has a partner of incomparable wanderlust, a Marco Polo of a thoroughbred. 'I've travelled a long way with this horse and I'm sure it's going to be more difficult for me than it is for him. He'll get acclimatised to the new environment before I do,' the trainer said.

'Whatever place you take him he seems to be OK. He's won at Gulfstream, Churchill Downs, Belmont, Keeneland, Pimlico, Santa Anita and Atlantic City and most everywhere he's been he's run his best race first time. He's an athletic horse and it's not like it takes him a long time to learn. He's adaptable.'

Lure has connections bettered only by the House Of Windsor. He is owned, and was bred, by Claiborne, which is a stud farm in Kentucky, but would be a county in Britain. Claiborne covers 3,400 acres of the bluegrass state with 95 miles of fencing, 27 miles of roadway and 47 barns with a total of 709 stalls. Its pastures have been home to perhaps the greatest horses to have run on either side of the Atlantic, Secretariat and Nijinsky, while the present stallion ranks include Mr Prospector and Lure's sire, Danzig. Claiborne has also produced European celebrities such as Caerleon, Nureyev and Ivanjica.

'Shug' McGaughey was actually born with a name typical of the way Americans like to stamp their lineage: Claude R McGaughey III (you'll never guess what one of his sons is called). Of all the CRMs, he is destined to be the most notable.

Since taking out a trainer's licence in 1979, McGaughey, 43, has established himself as perhaps the leading man on America's East Coast, and has trained champions such as Vanlandingham, Personal Ensign and Easy Goer. But the list will need re-arranging if Lure excels around Trundle Hill. 'There's no doubt it would be one of my greatest achievements,' he said. 'It would be a feather in anyone's cap to go over and win that race.'

(Photograph omitted)

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