The expansion of the Breeders' Cup gives rise to a conundrum familiar to Cheltenham, among other places. Is it possible to add so many races, without adulterating the essential quality? To many visitors here, over the next couple of days, the cordial answer will be: "Who cares?" For the increased breadth of opportunity has palpably renewed European interest – not least because the dirt races, this year, are so much less intimidating on a new, artificial surface.
All five races on today's preliminary card are confined to fillies or mares. Ironically, the raiders' best chance could rest with one whose pedigree implies that she might even have preferred the old track. Pursuit Of Glory has a top-class dirt pedigree – albeit her dam won the Coronation Stakes on turf – and the extra distance of the Juvenile Fillies' race looks guaranteed to draw the improvement she promised in the Cheveley Park Stakes last time. Lack of experience and ground together confined her to third place, but she hinted that she may prove the most talented filly in the race.
She had previously proved at home on a similar surface at Dundalk, and only a wide draw diminishes optimism that she can seal a breakthrough season for her trainer.
David Wachman's employers were also represented in the Cheveley Park by Heart Shaped, stabled with their main trainer, Aidan O'Brien. In staying on for fifth, she too looked likely to relish the step up to a mile in the turf version, but there must be a danger that Laragh might find an easy lead here.
O'Brien also saddles Halfway To Heaven in the Filly & Mare Turf race, but she barely gets this trip and may be vulnerable to the late-blooming Visit, who finished well behind her over a mile at Newmarket last time. Folk Opera was expertly placed (and ridden) to nick a Group One prize in Canada last time, but this looks tougher. Her stable may have better prospects in the Ladies' Classic, a race long known as the Distaff. Both Godolphin have been excelling for the stable's transatlantic wing, but in Zenyatta they face a filly described as the American Zarkava.