Gosden follows his California dream - Racing - Sport - The Independent

Gosden follows his California dream

Trainer seeks to build on last year's breakthrough victory here by Raven's Pass

Round here they know that some day the San Andreas Fault is going to wrench open "the next big one". On the state's racecourses, however, a massive tectonic rupture has already taken place. Last year, Santa Anita staged the first Breeders' Cup Classic on a synthetic surface – and the carnival's return this weekend has reopened the wounds made by a breakthrough British success.

To the author of that ground-breaking moment, however, the collision of these plates in the global horse racing crust will eventually produce a landscape every bit as majestic as the San Gabriel Mountains. Yesterday John Gosden was back in the same quarantine barn that last year housed Raven's Pass, his Classic winner, and very much at home he looked, too. Three decades ago, the big man set out here with three horses in a barn shared with Willard Proctor, who began his own training career here in 1938 and would eventually drop dead feeding horses in the same stable 60 years later.

"I don't think he was too thrilled when this Limey showed up," Gosden said wryly. "But it was a great place to start. You're all on a level handicap, all on the same track, all have the same facilities, no one's got an advantage. I stayed 11 years and formed a deep love of the place. People were so welcoming, so open. It took me two years to go from three horses to 12. And then I got a horse called Bates Motel."

Bates Motel won an Eclipse Award, in 1983. The following year, Gosden saddled Royal Heroine to win the inaugural Breeders' Cup Mile across town at Hollywood Park. But a sense of belonging is no longer confined to Gosden, whose CV happens to bridge transatlantic cultures; it can be shared by each and every European trainer here. The heat and sunshine may seem exotic, but the new surface means that their horses actually enjoy something akin to home advantage in the Americans' own backyard.

That is certainly the way things look to connections of the outstanding Rachel Alexandra, who was long ago ruled out of a meeting staged on a surface they disparage as "plastic". They are clearly still smarting from their experience with Curlin, the dirt champion outpaced behind Raven's Pass last year. But Gosden suggested that synthetic surfaces provide a more reliable measure of what Europeans, at any rate, cherish as class in a thoroughbred.

"We like to see a horse like Sea The Stars, that can go any distance, any pace," he said. "A horse with tremendous cruising speed. And then bang! That last quarter, they just explode and go away. To me, that's what is exhilarating about the equine athlete. And these surfaces can bring that out. Zenyatta [the unbeaten American mare] is living proof of that. Maybe Rachel Alexandra would have run a great race. I can understand the owner not wanting to come back. But if she's so wonderful, who's to say she wouldn't have beaten them all anyhow?"

They still have dirt at other historic venues across the country, of course – notably at Louisville, where the Breeders' Cup returns next year – but Gosden reiterated just why they dug it up in California. "It wasn't a decision taken in the heat of the moment," he said. "It was decreed by the state legislature due to the attrition rates. I think that has been proven to be a good move.

"Obviously if you've trained exclusively on dirt all your life, it is a different ball game. But there's no doubt these surfaces favour what we call high-class horses, with a turn of foot. That was certainly the case here last year, with Raven's Pass. Those that grind it out are going to get caught by those that can get hold of it, get bounce out of it. Curlin was best dirt horse I'd seen in a very long time. I think he just broke his opponents, broke their hearts the way he could gallop. But on that surface out there I think the last quarter our horses put in was very difficult to answer."

So, too, were questions about Jimmy Fortune's replacement by Frankie Dettori on Dar Re Mi, in the Turf, and Pounced, in the Juvenile Turf; Rainbow View, Gosden's runner in the Ladies' Classic on Friday's card, will meanwhile be ridden by Julien Leparoux, as she was when second in Canada last month. But we have been here before, not least when Dettori took over on Raven's Pass last year.

"Frankie cut his teeth here," Gosden said. "He was a kid sneaking in the back gate to ride work. It's no fault of Jimmy's, but he's never ridden here. You have a man who's ridden in 60-something Breeders' Cup races, and knows this track like the back of his hand. Let's not be naïve."

Dettori also has a strong book of rides for Saeed bin Suroor, who overnight had the thrill of seeing Crime Scene taking it up three out in the Melbourne Cup. But he was cut down late by Shocking, with the other raiders, Munsef and Basaltico, only 12th and 18th respectively. It will be disappointing, however, if the local defence proves quite so resilient this weekend.

Turf account: Chris McGrath

Nap

King Of Legend (7.20 Kempton) Made a promising start for his new stable the other day, finishing fast after the winner had already gone for home.

Next best

Mannlichen (8.20 Kempton) Excuse a disappointing run at Southwell, where the surface does not suit every horse. Previously, had made encouraging return.

One to watch

Tinaar (G A Butler) Retains the right to further progress after giving the winner a head start at Lingfield last week, finishing well clear of the rest.

Where the money's going

Planet Of Sound is 25-1 from 33-1 with Totesport for the Queen Mother Champion Chase after his game reappearance success at Exeter yesterday.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
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

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week