The Breeders’ Cup is one of the highlights of the racing year and we have a very strong European challenge heading to Kentucky led by French wondermare Goldikova who is bidding for a never to be repeated fourth successive win in the Mile. Trainer Freddy Head has confirmed that tonight’s race will be her last after a quite extraordinary career and she is reported as good as ever in the run up to the race.
The mare is short enough at 13/8 with many questioning whether her draw in stall 1 is a negative especially if she misses the break; we may not see her like again for many a year but I have always thought there was a big race in Gio Ponti (10.07) and I notice he raced more prominently last time. In the hope there is plenty of pace in the race (Strong Suit likes to race prominently but will have to cover ground from stall 11) the American horse gets the nod.
So You Think is blinkered for the Classic but this is not the first time the horse has had the blinds attached, given he wore them on a couple of occasions back in Australia. It is a big ask for the horse who has yet to race on dirt and this will be his fourth run since the beginning of September; that said I don’t think favourite Uncle Mo, so impressive when landing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year, will stay the 10f trip and preference in what looks a substandard renewal is for the filly Havre De Grace (11.00) so impressive at Belmont Park last time and only beaten once in six starts in 2011.
In the Juvenile Dirt Union Rags (9.25) is considered a potential superstar and could not have been more impressive in the Champagne Stakes last time; he hasn’t got the best of draws in stall ten but is taken to give the home team another winner. Aidan O’Brien is doubly represented via Crusade and Daddy Long Legs and after the recent successes of Camelot and Arthurian Legend the former would be some hat-trick.
Lightly-raced Sea Moon, who didn’t have the blow out on the turf connections had hoped for on Thursday, is sure to have his supporters in the Turf but I just favour Sarafina (8.45) who didn’t appear to give her best in the Arc when she went off market leader. Lightly raced the filly can reverse Arc form with St Nicholas Abbey given she had a very poor draw in Paris; Thursday’s rain will have helped but any further easing of conditions would be a plus.
The big betting race back in Britain is the November Handicap from Doncaster and we are betting 1/3 odds first 4 at Victor Chandler. Frankie Dettori picked up a seven day ban for interference aboard Willing Foe (3.10) who was returning from a long lay off at Newbury last month. The selection is a candidate to “bounce” after his run at the Berkshire track but this dual winner was most progressive last term and this doesn’t look a particularly good renewal of this prestigious finale to the flat turf season.
There is a terrific card at Wincanton where Paul Nicholls’ will have his usual share of winners including, I hope, Silviniaco Conti in the Novices’ Chase at 2.15. No match for Cue Card on his chase debut over the minimum trip the 5-y-old jumped well in the main and this 2m 5f looks ideal. The race has been won by some very good sorts in the past including Wishfull Thinking in 2011.
Grandouet (2.45) was one of last term’s leading juveniles and receives 10lbs from 2009 winner Celestial Halo; that ought to be enough to land the Elite Hurdle for Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty who travels over from Ireland to take the ride.
The big betting race at the Somerset track is the Badger Ales Chase and Gone To Lunch (3.20), despite being raised 10lbs for a recent success over 3m 4f, is selected for the yard of local trainer Jeremy Scott who, at the time of writing, have had seven winners from their last eight runners!
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