Clouds gather over British raiders after turf workout is refused


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The Independent Online

The advent of heavy rain yesterday morning conceivably made their horses feel at home, but its consequences had the reverse effect for three British trainers. Tempers flared as Sir Michael Stoute, Richard Hannon Jnr and John Gosden were refused scheduled workouts over the turf track at Churchill Downs, which was closed even as Sea Moon, Strong Suit and Elusive Kate approached. Attempts to reopen the barrier prompted ground-staff to call security, but Hannon went so far as to claim that Strong Suit could no longer win the Mile – and suggested that he had come to share his father's notorious distaste for bringing their best horses to the Breeders' Cup.

"We had arranged to work Strong Suit around two bends on the turf course, and this was our one and only chance to do it before the big day," he said. "They've had a millimetre of rain and it would only involve three horses working round the outside – where's the harm in that? They have ruined our chance of winning, and I doubt we will be coming back here in a hurry. When they come over to places like Ascot, they get their expenses and every facility provided. Why should we have to put up with this?"

The change in the weather was preceded by an eerie sunrise of crimson and violet, when the storm warnings had instead emanated from Aidan O'Brien. The Ballydoyle trainer was explaining the decision to refit So You Think, who contests the Classic tomorrow, with the blinkers he used to wear in Australia.

"At home, working with very solid Group horses, he just cruises and joins them and goes away," O'Brien said. "In his races, he's been cruising and joining – but he hasn't been going away. I suppose in Australia they have a different style, they go hard on the bridle and sprint, and we've been getting him to relax and get into a rhythm and come home. At Leopardstown we saw for the first time that he had started to get to the front and wait. He never lost a kilo after his run at Ascot and it's all pointing to him getting lazy, overdoing the relaxing part. So we put the blinkers on him at home and the lads said that he was much more attentive."