THE first weekend in November is one of the biggest in the world of racing.
This year’s Breeders’ Cup Carnival kicks off tonight, without spectators, with owners and despite various travel restrictions, there is significant European interest with no less than 37 foreign raiders competing at Keeneland.
Before we look ahead, it would be remiss not to mention Joseph O’Brien’s outstanding achievement in the early hours of Tuesday morning by winning his second Melbourne Cup with Twilight Payment.
Much has been made of the trainer’s age, two Melbourne Cups by the age of 27 is quite something, but we’ve come accustomed to Joseph excelling on a global stage.
A bold display from the front to repel the challenge of his father Aidan’s Tiger Moth, Twilight Payment led home a 1-2 for Irish-trained and bred horses.
Not even a national lockdown could stop the Irish from dominating in Australia!
So we got some dollars down under, but realistically, what are the chances of something similar this weekend?
Team Ballydoyle have shipped 10 horses across the AtlanticM including strong fancies Magical (Turf), Mogul (Turf), Peaceful (Filly & Mare Turf)M and Circus Maximus (Mile), but we have more than one string to our bow.
In fact, Dermot Weld, Ger Lyons, Jessica Harrington, and Ken Condon all saddle talented horses for what will hopefully prove a lucrative few days for the Emerald Isle.
The juveniles take centre-stage this evening with the first Irish runner (Lipizzaner) contesting the Juvenile Turf Sprint at 7.30pm Irish time and while he has an each-way chance, the real intrigue begins at 8.10pm in the Juvenile Turf.
Battleground (Aidan O’Brien) and Cadillac (Jessica Harrington) have had very different campaigns this season, but both look top prospects for next season.
We haven’t seen Battleground since he won the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood in July where he looked a tough colt who would relish a mile whereas Cadillac beat subsequent Group 1 winner Van Gogh on Irish Champions weekend before a slightly disappointing display in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
The pair will break from midfield stalls for a race that could be dominated by Europeans. Ralph Beckett is represented by New Mandate and Devilwala, Michael Bell sends his Coventry winner The Lir Jet, but perhaps the strongest chance of all lies with Prix Jean Luc Lagardere winner Sealiway.
The home team will be hard pressed to hold off the overseas challengers here!
Ken Condon has enjoyed a career best campaign with his string and what better way to round off the season than by Miss Amulet winning the Juvenile Fillies Turf at 9.30pm?
Three wins this year, including the Lowther Stakes at Newmarket and a gallant run in defeat behind Alcohol Free in the Cheveley Park Stakes, Miss Amulet has been busy but has maintained her form throughout the year.
Were she to conquer America, it would be a dream result for Ken and Pauline Condon.
If you thought tonight was exciting, then tomorrow is Disneyland!
Magical, Tarnawa. and Mogul boast strong credentials in the Breeders’ Cup Turf while Jessica Harrington’s Cayenne Pepper could be value in the Fillies and Mares. Circus Maximus, Kameko, Siskin, and Lope Y Fernandez fly the European flag in the Mile, but the Classic is the main event, the most valuable with a purse of $7,000,000 and, perhaps, the most difficult to win.
Coined as racing’s most notorious horse for events beyond his control, Maximum Security has proven himself as one of the world’s best equine athletes.
First past the post in the Kentucky Derby last year (losing the race in the stewards room) and a worthy winner of the Saudi Cup (but yet to be paid prize money), Maximum Security races from the front and could provide stable-mate and 2020 Kentucky Derby winner Authentic with the perfect target to follow.
Bob Baffert has endured a degree of questioning from US authorities lately, but these two pistols are seriously talented.
That said, I like the chances of Barclay Tagg’s Belmont Stakes winner Tiz The Law in a race that could suit a patiently ridden horse.
Awesome in the Travers and equally as dominant in the Florida Derby, Tiz The Law has what it takes to beat the Baffert pair on the biggest stage in America.
Let the games begin..