All systems go for Uncle Mo's comeback


Click to follow
The Independent Online

A fairly pedestrian programme on British soil should prompt even the most insular into a brief glance across the Atlantic this weekend, where no fewer than seven Grade One races will establish the lie of the land for the European raiders at the Breeders' Cup this autumn. As things stand, the consensus remains that the American three-year-olds have failed to achieve a vintage standard – and that it could prove a very good year to take on the home team at their own game, on dirt in the Classic.

As such, particular interest will be reserved for the comeback of Uncle Mo at Saratoga. In a sensational juvenile career, Uncle Mo won three starts by an aggregate of over 23 lengths – culminating in a runaway success in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. After being turned over at 1-10 in his trial, however, he was an 11th-hour scratching from the Kentucky Derby in May and subsequently diagnosed with a rare liver condition.

Happily, Uncle Mo has been earning rave reviews since returning to training and another "bullet work" at Saratoga last weekend persuaded Todd Pletcher to commit the colt to his first appearance since 9 April in the King's Bishop Stakes, over seven furlongs, on Saturday. "I don't think he could be training any better," Pletcher declared. The record-breaking trainer says that where Uncle Mo had previously had a depressed appetite and dull coat, he now looks "awesome".

Uncle Mo's return will especially delight admirers of Mike Repole, his owner, whose energetic and outspoken style has freshened up the elite scene. Repole and Pletcher will also be represented by one of the favourites for the historic Travers Stakes, known as the "Midsummer Derby", in Stay Thirsty. "It's interesting when the same owner has these two horses in back-to-back races, one of them a $1m [£606,000] race and one a $250,000 race – and in some ways the $250,000 is bigger," Pletcher said. "You could have one of them win, and still leave disappointed. It's certainly as exciting as any Travers Day I can remember."

The Irish will be keeping things interesting this side of the ocean, with Maybe putting her unbeaten record on the line at the Curragh on Sunday.

The Ed Dunlop-trained Snow Fairy, denied a run at Deauville last weekend by some obscure and exasperating red tape, is now likely to be diverted to the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday week.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Powerful Presence (7.20 Kempton) Latest start may have come too soon after an exceptionally generous effort at York and can continue his amazing improvement for this yard.

Next best

Circus Clown (3.20 Catterick) Much improved over hurdles during the winter and made most of a very modest rating on his return to the Flat, before improving again next time.

One to watch

Sir Trevor (Tom Dascombe) Shaped extremely well on his debut at Chester on Saturday, meeting trouble after blowing the start and running green but still managing fourth behind Na Zdorovie in a two-year-old maiden.

Where the money's going

Galiando is 25-1 from 40-1 with William Hill for the Betfred Cambridgeshire after his success at Windsor on Monday evening.