Preview – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Turf

With just a couple of days to go, before the 2017 Breeders’ Cup gets underway at Del Mar, let’s take a look at homegrown interest in one of Saturday’s key contests – The Breeders’ Cup Turf, which is run over a mile and a half.

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Ulysses (IRE)

Age: 4 (Foaled March 20th, 2013)

Sex: Chestnut Colt

Breeding: Galileo (IRE) – Light Shift (USA) (Kingmambo (USA))

Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute

The Galileo colt’s 4-year-old campaign began at Sandown, where Deauville, My Dream Boat and Royal Artillery were beaten in a competitive renewal of the Gordon Richards Stakes. Sir Michael Stoute then took him to Royal Ascot, but his challenge was crushed in the final furlong by a commanding Highland Reel performance.

Ulysses licked his wounds and would next be seen back at Sandown. He was up against the likes of Barney Roy and Cliffs Of Moher, in the Eclipse, so most pundits expected a placed finish at best. Jim Crowley’s hold-up ride worked like a treat, however and Ulysses triumphed from Barney Roy by just a nose.

Finishing in 2nd-place behind Enable, in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, was certainly no disgrace given that the winner went on to land the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Ulysses then beat Churchill to win the Juddmonte International Stakes, at York.

Like Enable, Ulysses also ran in the Arc and 3rd place was at least par for a horse that went-off as a 9/1 shot. We can expect this chestnut colt to be right up there with the leaders, when the horses approach the winning-post at Del Mar.

Highland Reel (IRE)

Age: 5 (Foaled February 21st, 2012)

Sex: Bay Horse

Breeding: Galileo (IRE) – Hveger (Danehill (USA))

Trainer: A P O’Brien

Aidan O’Brien’s tireless campaigner will be entering the stalls for the 24th race of his life, having already secured a brace of G1 wins this season. Highland Reel’s season began badly – he was last of 7 in the Dubai Sheema Classic, despite leading until the bend.

The 5-year-old put that rusty reappearance quickly behind him, destroying a top-class field in the Coronation Cup even though he traveled very keen to post. It served as a reminder, to all doubters, that this magnificent thoroughbred can still be dangerous at any distance between 9f and a mile and a half.

However, Highland Reel finished well-off the pace in both the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Champion Stakes but if the reigning Breeders’ Cup Turf champion is at his best then he will take a lot of beating on Saturday.

Decorated Knight

Age: 5 (Foaled February 11th, 2012)

Sex: Chestnut Horse

Breeding: Galileo (IRE) – Pearling (USA) (Storm Cat (USA))

Trainer: R Charlton

Roger Charlton’s inmate has endured a long and demanding campaign, in which he has taken part in 8 grueling encounters. He just about held-off the strong challenge, from Arab Spring, in the Winter Derby Trial and was a neck better than Folkswood in the Jebel Hatta (Meydan).

Connections would have hoped for better than a 6th-placed finish, in the Dubai Turf, but he still started the Tattersalls Gold Cup as favourite and justified market-support with a convincing victory over Aidan O’Brien’s Somehow.

Decorated Knight then suffered defeats in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, the Eclipse and the Juddmonte International Stakes and few had high hopes for him in his last outing – the Irish Champion Stakes, at Leopardstown. Churchill was the hot-favourite, but Ryan Moore struggled for racing room on the English and Irish Guineas winner and Decorated Knight siezed the opportunity – landing the spoils, at odds of 25/1.

He will probably have to run the race of his life, if he is to follow-up and win in this company though.

Others In Contention

The list of European invaders goes on and includes Seventh Heaven and Andre Fabre’s Talismanic. Chad Brown’s Beach Patrol looks the most-likely US winner, while the remainder look very-much held based on the formbook.

You can already bet on all of the 2017 Breeders’ Cup races, in our ante-post section. Get ready for one of racing’s most important festivals, of the year!

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