Breeders’ Cup: A Look Ahead at the European Invaders

September 13, 2022

The Breeders’ Cup is just seven weeks away, and the European challenge is slowly taking shape. The main thrust from Britain will come from Charlie Appleby, who signed for three BC winners last year, but with the valuable autumn programme in Europe still approaching its peak, there is still a great deal of liquidity regarding the identity of those likely to head across the Atlantic to Keeneland. Here we outline the leading European contenders – at this stage – for the turf races at the world championships.

Turf

Charlie Appleby, successful 12 months ago with Yibir, will aim the gelding at back-to-back wins if the ground is on the fast side, and he could be joined by Saratoga G1 winner Nations Pride. If Keeneland comes up wet, Appleby has any number of alternatives including multiple G1 winner Hurricane Lane and the progressive German G1 winner Rebel’s Romance.

Last year’s runner-up Broome is expected to represent Aidan O’Brien, with G1 Irish Champion Stakes winner Luxembourg a possible depending on how he performs in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and the inconsistent G1 Oaks winner Tuesday another under consideration.

The leading contender from France is expected to be another Godolphin runner in Botanik, G1-placed at two and winner of the G2 Grand Prix de Deauville. “He has always been a very good horse,” says trainer Andre Fabre. “He missed almost all his three-year-old campaign and was gelded, but he’s four-for-five this year and I think he should be unbeaten.”

Mile

The best European miler – Baaeed – isn’t coming to the Breeders’ Cup, and there is certainly no stand-out among those who have been chasing him in vain this summer. This race went to Charlie Appleby last year and he intends to send Modern Games, winner of the G1 BC Juvenile Turf 12 months ago and beaten a length and three-quarters by Baaeed in the G1 Sussex at Goodwood. Native Trail, winner of the G1 Irish 2,000 Guineas, is expected to stay at home and run at Ascot instead.

Order Of Australia won the Mile at Keeneland two years ago and if the ground is fast will be Aidan O’Brien’s leading hope again, although he is an inconsistent type. G1 Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Homeless Songs is under consideration as long as the ground is not fast, and plans will be clarified after she runs in France next month.

Filly & Mare Turf

This will have considerable European representation, arguably headed by dual G1 winner Nashwa, whose presence will give US railbirds an opportunity to watch the top-quality jockey Hollie Doyle in action. Jane Chapple-Hyam is debating whether to pitch G1 winner Saffron Beach in against the boys in the Mile or try to stretch out in this race; she is leaning towards the latter. 

The US audience is already familiar with Charlie Appleby’s With The Moonlight, a winner at this distance in the G3 Saratoga Oaks and the obvious member of his team to travel. She’ll be joined by the progressive Dreamloper, who ran the race of her life to win the G1 Prix du Moulin at Longchamp – beating Order Of Australia – and has trainer Ed Walker eagerly hunting for his passport.

“It means going back up in distance but It’s around two turns on a flat track and I think that will suit,” he says. “I’d love to take her over there.”

Turf Sprint

The marvelous Highfield Princess is by some way the best sprinter in Europe and, after adding the G1 Flying Five at the Curragh to her previous G1 scores at Deauville and York, she will be a huge threat to the strong home team.

“She’s just spectacular, really,” says trainer John Quinn. “It would be nice to go and take on Golden Pal at the Breeders’ Cup and see how we get on. She’s well on track to do it.”

She may be accompanied by Emaraaty Ana, fourth in the race last year and back to his best after a lacklustre spring, while globetrotting Irishman A Case Of You was one place further back 12 months ago and is also being considered for a repeat bid.

Juvenile Turf

Once again, Charlie Appleby can pick and choose from a lavish array of possibles, although he will be keeping his best at home as before. Mysterious Night, a G3 winner at Deauville over seven furlongs, is clearly high on Appleby’s list given his presence in the G1 Summer at Woodbine at the weekend, a win-and-in for the Breeders’ Cup. Stakes-winner Naval Power has already won at a mile, and seven-furlong stakes-winner Victory Dance is a similar type.

He was narrowly beaten in a G2 at Newmarket two starts ago by Isaac Shelby, who has long been considered Keeneland material. “We are thinking of the Breeders’ Cup because he has a lot of speed and a lightning turn of foot,” says syndicate owner Sam Sangster.

Aidan O’Brien is likely to be represented but, like Appleby, his best ones will stay at home and the pecking order at his barn is unclear below pro tem leader Little Big Bear, who may not be asked to go a mile this year.

Juvenile Fillies Turf

The presence of Fairy Cross in the G1 Natalma at Woodbine on Saturday, a win-and-in for the Breeders’ Cup, indicates that Charlie Appleby has her very much in mind for Keeneland. A G3 winner over seven furlongs at Goodwood last time, Fairy Cross is near the top of Appleby’s juvenile filly roster. Goodwood runner-up Breege may well accompany her barnmate Highfield Princess across the Atlantic.

The connections of Lezoo were represented when the Breeders’ Cup last visited Keeneland, and they could travel again with this progressive filly, winner of a G3 at Ascot in July before getting a break to keep her fresh for the autumn.

Juvenile Turf Sprint

There may not be many Europeans in this, with recent G3 winner Trillium staying closer to home for her next objective, but the horse she narrowly beat last time, The Platinum Queen, could travel. “There is the Abbaye at Longchamp or the Breeders’ Cup, so we’ll think about it and see where she’ll go next,” says syndicate manager Tom Palin.

A good fourth in the six-furlong G1 Prix Morny at Deauville last time, Manhattan Jungle is a contender for the Juvenile Turf Sprint, with trainer Amy Murphy describing the Breeders’ Cup as “a potential end-of-year aim”.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Internationalangel, G3-placed and a prolific winner over seven furlongs on synthetics, would be a surprise participant on the main track at Keeneland, but her owner Laurence Holder says: “There are two options, Longchamp or the Breeders’ Cup, given her experience on the all-weather. Why not give her a go on the dirt against the Americans? It is definitely worth the challenge.” 

G1 winners who aren’t likely to travel for various reasons

Baaeed, Adayar, Inspiral, Pyledriver, Alpinista, Minzaal, Tahiyra, Vadeni, Desert Crown

By Steve Dennis

@drbillym @jonathanstettin @PastTheWire running hot..been that way for almost 2 months

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