Cecil chases Breeders' Cup win

Expanded raiding party gives British trainer fine chance of first California win

The one omission in the glittering CV of Henry Cecil is a Breeders' Cup victory. But it should be pointed out that, in 25 years of the hugely valuable meeting, Britain's ten-time champion trainer has fielded only six runners, half of which won prize money. The first to blaze a trail from Warren Place was Indian Skimmer, who finished third in the Turf in 1988, the most recent Passage Of Time, third in the Filly & Mare Turf two years ago.

This time around, Cecil is playing what is by his standards a numbers game, California dreaming with a team of three. Twice Over is bound for the fixture's richest prize, the $5m Classic, Midday for the Filly & Mare Turf and Father Time (right) for the Marathon. All three carry the silks of Khaled Abdullah.

Cecil is as partial to fat purses as any trainer – this year's 14 races over two days are worth $25.5m (£15.5m) – but practical considerations have also restricted his raiding parties in past seasons.

"I've always found it difficult as it's so late in the year," he said. "By now horses have had a long season and the travelling doesn't make it easy. In the past, I've only taken one horse at a time, this time I'm taking three.

"Hopefully the three of them will run really well. I'd like to think they'll all be in the first three. Whether they win or not, though, is another matter."

The market gives the best chance to Midday, third-favourite for her ten-furlong contest, and so does her trainer. Since winning the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood at the start of August, the daughter of Oasis Dream has had Santa Anita on Saturday week as her target, though Cecil admits he left her slightly undercooked for her warm-up in the Prix de L'Opera on Arc day.

"She's still growing and getting much stronger and I gave her a break with the Breeders' Cup in mind," he said. "I gave her six easy weeks and I mistimed it. I was a week behind with her and in the Opera she came there to win but got tired in the last furlong. After the race I knew I'd got it wrong as she was really heaving, which she never does. At home she was doing things so easily – she was only just doing enough. She needed that race."

Twice Over, who proved himself a genuine top-level performer in the Champion Stakes and has thrived mentally and physically since, faces a stiff task against Aidan O'Brien-trained Rip van Winkle and, possibly, the unbeaten US star Zenyatta. A decision about whether the filly will take on males for the first time will be made after she works on Saturday.

Both Twice Over and Rip van Winkle are set for their first starts on an artificial track, but most European horses now train regularly on such surfaces and 12 months ago, at the same venue, Raven's Pass memorably notched only the second European victory in the Classic, after Arcangues 16 years ago.

"I expect he'll like it," said Cecil of his charge. "He likes a bit of give in the ground. It was lovely to win the Champion Stakes seeing him run like that on that faster ground – I'd like to think he'd be even better on the surface in America."

Rip van Winkle, coming off Group 1 mile wins in the Sussex and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes after beating all bar Sea The Stars in the 10-furlong Eclipse, is 13-8 favourite to make it back-to-back wins for Europe on the underfoot conditions, introduced to the Breeders' Cup for the first time last year and more familiar to the raiders than the traditional American dirt. "He is full of strength and determination," said O'Brien yesterday, "and I'll be surprised if the surface does not work for him."

The master of Ballydoyle will take seven to Santa Anita and Royal Ascot winner Mastercraftsman, who successfully warmed up on Dundalk's sand, is 2-1 favourite for the Dirt Mile. Europe, with five victories from 24 runners last year, has other strong fancies in the Turf (Conduit, Spanish Moon, Dar Re Mi), Turf Mile (Goldikova, Delegator and Gladiatorus), Marathon (Mastery and Father Time) and Turf Sprint (Fleeting Spirit).

Turf account: Sue Montgomery

Nap

Moonlife (2.40 Lingfield) Showed the benefit of a mid-season break with a confidence-booster 16 days ago and although that win was something of a penalty kick, she can continue her impressive progress.

Next best

Spirit of Sharjah (3.10 Lingfield) Produced a good first all-weather effort, despite running keenly from a high draw, on today's course last time and has dropped to his previous winning turf mark.

One to watch

Of the debutants in Tuesday's seven-furlong maiden at Yarmouth, none shaped better than Lileo (L Cumani). The colt, by Galileo, will benefit from a step up in trip next time.

Where the money's going

Poquelin is 5-1 favourite with the sponsors for the Paddy Power Gold Cup, the first valuable handicap of the Cheltenham season, on 14 November.

Chris McGrath's Nap

Get Me Out Of Here (3.20 Stratford).

Suggested Topics
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?