It is scant reward for beating a horse acclaimed as the best in the world, but then Brian Meehan must have known that he might become the victim of his own success when Red Rocks upset Curlin in New York last Saturday. Yesterday it was confirmed that Red Rocks would stay in the United States for the remainder of his career, but Meehan expressed unequivocal support for the decision of his owner, Paul Reddam.
His success in the Man O' War Stakes restored Red Rocks to the heights he last commanded when winning the Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs in 2006. Reddam has duly decided to transfer Red Rocks to the care of Mark Hennig, who will prepare him for the Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes at Saratoga next month, prior to another crack at the Breeders' Cup, this time at Santa Anita.
Meehan acknowledged that he would miss a horse that helped to put him on the global map in his first season at Manton, when he also won a huge prize in Dubai with David Junior. "But you have to be professional and think about what's best for the horse," he emphasised. "In a way, he's a victim of the programme over here, which doesn't cater that well for this type – even though there are more mile-and-a-half horses in Europe.
"The owners will be keeping me in the loop, but it would have been crazy to ship him back here, miss Saratoga, and then ship all the way out to Los Angeles again. If he wins the Sword Dancer he'll be in line for an Eclipse Award, and if he wins the Breeders' Cup the world will be his oyster."
Meehan contends that Curlin ran very well on his turf debut at Belmont, but that Red Rocks, who had only finished sixth in the Coronation Cup on his final start in Europe, was revived by blinkers.
Meanwhile he believes he has fresh blood for the elite level in Cat Junior, who has finished fourth in consecutive Group One races on only his third and fourth starts – latterly behind Tamayuz in the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly on Sunday.
"I was talking to Richard Hughes after the race, and we all agree that he is crying out for a mile and a quarter now," Meehan said. "I think that will make him into a genuine Group One horse. The Juddmonte International [at York] is a possibility, but I'm quite favouring the route we went with David Junior for the same owner a couple of years ago. That would be the Rose Of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock, a Group Three at Goodwood and then the Champion Stakes at Newmarket."
Meehan had a winner for his landlords, the Sangster family, at Leicester yesterday when Changing Skies, midfield in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, was dropped in trip and class and cruised clear under Jamie Spencer. Runner-up Kossack, a full-brother to St Leger winner Milan, caught the eye in second and will doubtless prove a force in middle-distance handicaps.
l Robert Winston will miss the Thursday and Friday of Glorious Goodwood after the jockey was suspended a total of six days for two riding offences at Hamilton yesterday.