Workforce and Co set to take Kentucky by storm

The management team at Churchill Downs were alarmed on Tuesday when a tornado warning was issued for the Louisville area. They did not like the idea of an 11th-hour repair job on the iconic twin spires, just 10 days before staging the Breeders' Cup. In the event, the epicentre passed to the north, and it might well be that the meteorologists had simply got their wires crossed with the local horsemen. For there is no mistaking the storm gathering over the Atlantic, with the three hottest favourites at the meeting – Workforce, Goldikova and Midday – all being flown across from Europe.

It was fitting that the nominations for the 27th Breeders' Cup should have been unveiled yesterday at Epsom, scene of Workforce's spectacular coming of age back in June. He will be the first Derby winner to go to America since High Chaparral, the dual Turf winner of 2002 and 2003. In conjunction with the possibility of a first Breeders' Cup hat-trick – whether through Goldikova in the Mile, or Zenyatta in the Classic – Workforce's participation enabled the Cup's chief executive to hail the fields assembling on Friday and Saturday week as "the deepest in Breeders' Cup history".

Underlying concerns remain. The return to Churchill Downs means the dirt races will be run on the sort of punishing surface that has historically inhibited the European challenge. Only four European horses have been entered for the dirt races, a dispiriting commentary on the vested interests of those who have since persuaded Santa Anita, site of ground-breaking European success in the last two years, to dig up its synthetic track and restore dirt. The Breeders' Cup promoters have done their best to redress the balance with revolutionary incentives in eligibility and fees for overseas raiders, from 2011. And it is edifying, in the meantime, that the biggest names from either side of the Atlantic should be converging for a carnival culpably rejected last year by connections of both Sea The Stars and Rachel Alexandra.

In their absence, Zenyatta proved able to save the day, and she returns to defend the Classic with a 19-race unbeaten career on the line. She will dominate the build-up, but the raiders top the agenda in almost all the grass races. John Gosden, for instance, has entrusted his hat-trick attempt in the Juvenile Turf to Utley, fifth when fast-tracked from a Yarmouth maiden to a Group One race on Arc day; he also runs Flood Plain in the fillies' version. Utley's opponents will include Mantoba, Dux Scholar and Master Of Hounds – the latter looking pretty attractive, at 5-1 with Ladbrokes, after running third in the Racing Post Trophy.

Like Workforce, Dux Scholar is trained by Sir Michael Stoute for Khaled Abdullah, whose 16 Group One winners this year leave him two short of a personal best. With Midday also in his service, he could well find them both in Kentucky next week. Abdullah's racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe, yesterday made a cogent case for Dux Scholar as an experienced juvenile with more to offer than might seem evident in two defeats since broking his maiden at the third attempt.

"In the Autumn Stakes, at Ascot, we felt he came to win his race quite comfortably, but he had a really good blow after that," he said. "Then, at Newbury, he got his head in front and just seemed to lose concentration. When the other horse came to him, he fought back, but just too late. He's improving, we think he'll like the [fast] ground and he might have a pair of blinkers, too."

However, Workforce bears the standard. "He's come back into his work rhythm pretty quickly since the Arc," Grimthorpe said. "He worked on Saturday morning and I have to say he did look in tremendous shape."

Workforce has frightened off most of the opposition, the bookmakers rating Behkabad as most competent among just seven other entries after his troubled run into fourth in the Arc. Dangerous Midge and Debussy accompany Workforce from Britain.

The international sport has evolved almost beyond recognition since Dancing Brave, perhaps Abdullah's greatest champion, finished only fourth in the same race. "Workforce hasn't had anything like the year Dancing Brave had," Grimthorpe noted. "The horse who arrived at Santa Anita in 1986 was not the same horse who had arrived at Longchamp. But that's all history now."

And that, with Zenyatta, Goldikova and Workforce all on the brink of unprecedented achievement, is precisely what beckons.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Quick Wit (2.40 Lingfield) Thrashed a subsequent winner at Nottingham last time and can shrug off an 11lb higher rating on his way to proving better than a handicapper.

Next best

Island Legend (5.50 Wolverhampton) Sent off too quickly round here last time but left no doubt that he remains in top form, well clear until fading late.

One to watch

Spring Jim (J R Fanshawe) Looked back on track at Doncaster last Friday, going strongly as he weaved through for third.

Where the money's going

Workforce is even money from 6-5 with Coral for the Breeders' Cup Turf on Saturday week.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before