Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Will the Force be with them at Breeders’ Cup?

Having seen the way things worked out on Sunday, nobody will mind in the slightest that connections of Workforce were yesterday once again reserving the right to a late decision on his next move.

But the very fact that they are now contemplating a crack at the Breeders' Cup with their champion is sufficient to send an agonised frisson of hope and excitement down the spine of anyone who relishes the Turf's own Ryder Cup.

In the first flush of Workforce's dramatic success under Ryan Moore in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, owner Khaled Abdullah's racing manager suggested that the colt was “unlikely” to run again this season.

At the time, all concerned were simply elated that they had made the right call in finally committing to Paris only on Thursday morning. Yesterday, however, Teddy Grimthorpe raised the possibility that Workforce could go for the Turf at Churchill Downs next month - and it is not hard to see why that should have become an appealing possibility - during the course of their celebrations on Sunday night.

After all, Workforce has had only four races this season, and five in total. Rested after that mystifying failure at Ascot in July, the Derby winner had been brought expertly back to the boil for the Arc by Sir Michael Stoute and it would seem perverse to board up the storefront after a fresh delivery of stock.

Louisville in November, moreover, does not menace a European thoroughbred with the sort of abrupt change in climate experienced at Santa Anita over the past two years. And no rival, either side of the Atlantic, volunteers himself as particularly competent to thwart Workforce should he show up in the same form as at Longchamp. Pending a decision on his participation, bookmakers are already quoting him from 2-1 to 5-2.

“The horse trotted out fine this morning,” Grimthorpe said yesterday. “It was quite a rough race but Ryan negotiated a very good passage for him. He showed plenty of courage and brilliance to quicken at the right time. The Breeders' Cup could be a possible, but we'll have to see how he is over the next couple of weeks.”

Not even the addition of Workforce to the European team, however, would disqualify Goldikova as its standard-bearer. Her astonishing performance in the Prix de la Foret – the 11th Group One win of her career, a new record – was among many subplots swamped by the Arc on Sunday.

At one stage in the straight it seemed as though Olivier Peslier, knowing her distaste for testing ground, was reconciled to easing her down, but she rallied on the bridle and was able to win, little more than pushed out, from a top-class field.

Freddie Head, her trainer, hopes that she will remain in that kind of form in her quest for an unprecedented third success in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

“It was amazing after the race she wasn't even blowing,” he said. “She was cool, perfect – she didn't have a hard race. She's like a car. She can do anything and at any distance.”

The runner-up, Paco Boy, seems likely to pursue Goldikova to Kentucky. Richard Hannon Jnr, assistant to his father, felt that both Paco Boy and Dick Turpin, who was third on Sunday, had excelled from a wide draw.

“We have met Goldikova four times and have yet to beat her,” he said. “But the draw is even more important over the mile in American racing, and maybe at Churchill Downs we will get the luck.”

Dick Turpin will now be roughed off for next season, but no decision has yet been made on Canford Cliffs. The Hannons had suggested that the colt's owners were keen on the Breeders' Cup, but his eligibility for a huge bonus seems to have promoted a race in Japan on November 21 to the top of his agenda.

Richard Hughes, the Hannons' jockey, will have an appeal heard on Thursday morning against a six-day suspension for careless riding at Wolverhampton on Saturday. Hughes views the ban, as it stands, as fatal to his championship duel with Paul Hanagan, himself still euphoric after his maiden Group One success on Wootton Bassett in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagard on Sunday.

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