Crackerjack King can lead European Million raid

weekend preview

Arlington

Given everything that has happened since – from the Breeders' Cup to Dubai, from Hong Kong to Royal Ascot – it is a significant anniversary not just for a race that dismantled so many frontiers, but for the international sport as a whole. And, if arguably lacking vintage quality, the European raiders convening for the 30th running of the Arlington Million have no precedent when measured by quantity. The further expansion of Chicago's international turf carnival, through the inauguration of an American St Leger, has lured no fewer than 14 horses across, requiring an extra quarantine barn on the back stretch here.

A race on grass over "one mile and 11 sixteenths" palpably plays to European strengths, and has duly prompted Marco Botti, John Gosden and Mikael Magnusson to fly over Jakkalberry, Zuider Zee and Bridge Of Gold respectively. But the three established races, all Grade Ones, must themselves be counted as congenial an "away" fixture as might be devised, over 10 furlongs of a generous turf course.

Top challenger for the Million itself is Crackerjack King, who is Jakkalberry's half-brother and was exported from Italy earlier this summer by his former trainer, Stefano Botti, to join his sibling, Marco, in Newmarket. Crackerjack King had just confirmed his elite calibre on home soil, beating Afsare in a Group One race in Rome in May, but suffered only the second defeat of his life on his British debut in the Eclipse. On the face of it, fifth of nine seemed pretty disappointing, but the going was probably softer than ideal and he did manage some menace during the most demanding passage of the race.

This looks a characteristically astute choice of target, by his new trainer, with the going drying out quickly after a spectacular thunderstorm on Thursday. Though Afsare has dauntlessly followed him over the ocean, Crackerjack King can give Colm O'Donoghue the biggest success of his career outside the service of Ballydoyle.

His usual patrons are represented by Treasure Beach, on whom O'Donoghue won the Secretariat Stakes on this card last year. The colt has since switched to the colours of Jim and Fitri Hay, and will be ridden this time by Jamie Spencer, who won the 2011 Million in their silks, on Cape Blanco. Treasure Beach has lost his form, however, and sadly the same seems true of Wigmore Hall, on whom Hayley Turner will be hoping for better breaks than when a fast-finishing fourth to Cape Blanco last year. Connections of the 2010 winner, Debussy, are likewise back for another crack with Colombian, but he needs a career best. The home defence is led by Boisterous, representing a Hall of Fame trainer in Shug McGaughey III, if not a terribly intimidating standard in indigenous turf form.

The home team does field a prolific turf runner in the Secretariat Stakes, Silver Max having reeled off six wins by an aggregate of 22 lengths since switching surface. But O'Donoghue again has sound prospects, this time for Aidan O'Brien, with Daddy Long Legs. The UAE Derby winner finished tailed off on his last visit to these shores, evidently resenting the dirt in the Kentucky Derby, and was ridden with too much gusto when setting up the Irish 2,000 Guineas for his stablemate, Power. He should be nicely freshened up for this.

O'Brien and O'Donoghue also have each-way prospects in the Beverly D with Up, who ran well at the Breeders' Cup and may appreciate a return to this environment. Joviality also seems to prefer a sound surface, but the value could be Kapitale, a smart German filly who has been laid out for this.

It is an important weekend in Botti's burgeoning career. Tomorrow he fast-tracks Moohaajim, an impressive debut winner at Ascot, to Group One company in the Darley Prix Morny at Deauville. Other cross-Channel raiders include Reckless Abandon, who won the Norfolk Stakes for Clive Cox before a successful French reconnaissance in the Prix Robert Papin; and two from Richard Hannon, Sir Prancealot and Alhebayeb. O'Brien meanwhile sends over Parliament Square and George Vancouver.

On the same card, Snow Fairy makes her belated return in the Prix Jean Romanet, having been sidelined with injury since her latest Japanese success last November.

The turf account

Chris McGrath's nap

Maastricht (5.00 Doncaster)

Next best

Rakaan (3.40 Newbury)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
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

Mechanical Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A key client in the East Midlands are re...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£21000 - £31000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobWe are looking ...

Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The Job...Due to continued ...

Supply Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Supply TeachersWould you l...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice