As America’s premier horse race meeting, the Breeders’ Cup, draws to a close for another year, British racing can hold its head up high. Providing all three northern hemisphere trained winners, England consolidated its position as a leading force in the international racing world. Wonder horse Enable’s historic victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf proving to be the icing on the cake. However, not everything went to plan, several fancied horses failed to run to form while another was headed on the line. Many British fans, while feeling reasonably happy with the outcome, will be left wondering what might have been had events unfolded more favourably.
The first day proved no better than average for the British raiders with a winner and a couple of places. The main disappointment of the day came in the Juvenile sprint turf, when Joint favourites Sergey Prokofiev and Soildier’s Call failed to fire, finishing 8th and 6th respectively, while Aiden O’Brien trained So Perfect came a creditable third.
The following race involved four British trained runners but revolved around American odds on favourite, Newspaperofrecords. Jumping well from the gate, the filly secured an early lead, with her jockey, Irad Ortiz Jr able to dictate from the front. When her rider pressed the button in the home straight, he was met with an electrifying response as his outstanding mount effortlessly drew clear for a facile victory. Kevin Ryan trained East ran a solid race to take second place for England after being dropped out early by her rider Jamie Spencer, but was never able to get on terms with the winner.
Britain’s first success of the meeting came in the Juvenile Turf, courtesy of Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby. Line Of Duty, winner of the Prix De Conde in France, sat covered up in mid pack for most of the race. His rider, William Buick, asked the horse to quicken as they entered the final straight, angling towards the centre of the track. Proving a difficult ride, the horse stayed on well while hanging badly to his left, colliding with second placed horse Uncle Benny in the final strides. A stewards enquiry was held and determined that while 3/1 favourite Line Of Duty had interfered with the runner up, it was not enough to affect the result, confirming Britain’s first winner.
Day two proved far more fruitful for British racing. Two more winners and a close second in three of the feature races, all trained in Newmarket, ensured that England maintained it’s good record at the meeting. Wild Illusion, the UK’s first big hope for the day, started as 9/4 favourite. The Nassau winner provided some anxious moments before the race, becoming increasingly agitated as handlers struggled to get her in the stalls. Eventually loaded, the three-year-old jumped slowly and came under strong pressure. Rushing through the field, the filly grabbed fifth early and held the position for much of the race. Finding himself caught three wide on the final bend, jockey, William Buick, pushed the favourite forward, conscious not to lose ground. With a furlong to go Wild Illusion drew alongside long-time leader Raving Beauty, briefly pushing her head in front. However, American trained Sistercharlie, former French Oaks second, came flying down the outside to beat the English hope by a neck. Many of her supporters will feel that the fillies pre-race antics and fractious temperament cost her victory.
Jersey Stakes winner Expert Eye provided Britain’s second winner of the meeting via a late charge in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Starting slower than desired, the colt settled towards the back of the pack early under rider Frankie Dettori. Steered towards the outside of the field around the final bend, the three-year-old began making eye-catching headway down the outside, swooping late to land the spoils. Starting as 9/2 favourite, Expert Eye has always been held in high regard by his trainer, Newmarket based Sir Michael Stoute, who will now feel his horse has fulfilled its potential.
Enable was the highlight of the meeting for the British contingent. Heading overseas with a mighty reputation, the dual Arc De Triomphe filly was up against the weight of history. With no horse ever having won an Arc then a Breeders’ Cup Turf, the superstar would need to rewrite history in order to justify her odds of 8/13. Ridden as usual by Frankie Dettori, the four-year-old broke on terms, finding herself in a handy position just behind the leaders. Conscious of deteriorating ground, Dettori tried to pull his mount to the outside of the field in search of better going. Eventually finding herself on the outside of the field, the favourite started to make gradual progress. Forced widest on the bend into the straight by other runners, Enable gave lengths away to all her rivals, but found only one adversary able to match her pace as she pressed on inside the final furlong. Magical, winner of the Champion Fillies and Mares Stakes, pushed Enable all the way to the line, creating a wonderful spectacle as both horses, lengths clear of the field, raced neck and neck before Enable forged half a length clear to win the race. Like so many before, Magical’s valiant effort proved inadequate, with Enable’s undeniable heart the defining factor as she repelled another pretender. Having made history with her Breeders’ Cup Turf win, it is currently unclear whether Enable will see a race track as a five-year-old or be sent to stud to enjoy a well-earned retirement. Whatever her future plans, she will always be remembered as one of the very greatest horses of this or any other era.