Team Europe sticks to safe horizons for Breeders' Cup


Nothing, it seems, is quite so universal as insularity. Despite the best efforts of its organisers, the publication yesterday of entries for the 29th Breeders' Cup reiterated the challenge they face in matching its formal billing as the World Thoroughbred Championships.

For while the European raiding party looks up to scratch, in quality and quantity, it also reflects the work of narrower minds either side of the Atlantic.

Thanks to the maddeningly parochial scheduling of Qipco Champions Day, cheek by jowl with both the Arc meeting and the Breeders' Cup, Excelebration and Fame And Glory are the only two horses deemed hardy enough to proceed from Ascot last Saturday to Los Angeles next week. For their part, meanwhile, the American professional community – in urging Santa Anita to abandon its momentous experiment with a synthetic racing surface – has guaranteed that Frankel was only one of the European stars to abjure those races now staged back on dirt.

The two Breeders' Cups staged on a synthetic circuit at Santa Anita yielded unprecedented success for the raiders, with five winners in 2008 and six in 2009. This time round, however, they have dared just three entries in dirt races – and two of these, Fame And Glory and Sense Of Purpose, contest one that plays to another European strength, stamina, in the Marathon. Much credit is due, then, to Tom Dascombe for his enterprise in preparing Ceiling Kitty for the Juvenile Sprint.

In fairness to the Breeders' Cup management, Santa Anita's retreat to dirt was beyond their jurisdiction – and they continue to provoke their compatriots by dismantling other barriers to overseas competition, in eligibility, costs and medication. For the first time, Lasix will be prohibited in all the two-year-old races. It seems highly instructive, then, that only nine fillies and 10 colts have been mustered for the two showcase juvenile events on dirt. (Three of those fillies, moreover, have alternative engagements.)

In contrast, the turf races in this division have been oversubscribed – as another congenial innovation, from the European perspective – and bookmakers identify Sky Lantern (Richard Hannon) and Dundonnell (Roger Charlton) as favourites to export first prize.

John Gosden has long targeted The Fugue at the Filly and Mare Turf, but the mainstay of the raiding party is once again Aidan O'Brien. His nine candidates are headed by Excelebration, as short as 6-4 in places to follow up his Ascot rout in the Mile. With such a demanding fortnight in mind, O'Brien was careful to give him a light build-up after he endured the last of several thrashings by Frankel at Royal Ascot.

"He's only been with us one season and we've been learning a lot about him as we went along," O'Brien said. "We were testing him, and when we knew Frankel was going a different route we put together everything we learnt from that whole experience. We think he's got stronger and faster, and he has top form on every type of ground."

S t Nicholas Abbey defends the Turf, alongside Treasure Beach, while Starspangledbanner will go for the Turf Sprint if coming through his prep at Dundalk on Friday. Line Of Battle and George Vancouver give the stable a strong hand in the Turf Juvenile, while Up and Infanta Branca tackle the senior and junior fillies' races. As for Fame And Glory, the mission is a candid gamble.

"He has got a little bit clever," O'Brien admitted. "When the going got tough on that ground at Ascot, he just curled up a bit. The dirt is obviously an unknown, it's an experiment really, and he'll probably run in a visor." A useful reminder, perhaps, that those are only supposed to be worn by the horses.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Miss Dashwood (6.10 Wolverhampton) Has made a good start in handicaps and, having travelled strongly throughout when scoring here last time, looks to have got away lightly with a 3lb rise.

Next best

Sea The Storm (9.10 Wolverhampton) Quickly finding his feet for a new stable, well clear of the pack when running a thriving rival to a neck last time.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral