RICHARD Fahey is unperturbed by Ribchester’s unfavourable double-figure draw in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar tonight.
Europe’s star miler has been allotted an outer stall 10 at the tight American track as he attempts to end his lucrative racing career on a high before stallion duties call.
The Godolphin-owned colt is seeking a fifth Group One triumph after finishing second in Ascot’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes a fortnight ago – rain softened ground was blamed for the defeat of William Buick’s mount.
The best horse that Malton-based Fahey has trained, the handler is pleased with how four-year-old Ribchester has acclimatised on the American west coast.
“Everything’s gone good. He’s training well, he’s drinking and eating. We’re happy,” he said.
“The Breeders’ Cup chap in Europe tells me 10 is not a bad draw. He’s given me the stats to back it up, so I’m going to go with him. The beauty is we’re getting him back on some decent ground. That’s something I want to see before he retires and he does retire after Saturday.
“We’re lucky we’re getting the opportunity to run him again. It is around two tight turns, and I’d be more worried about that than anything, but you don’t know until you try and the pace of the race you’d imagine will suit.
“If he handles the track, I’m sure he’ll run his race. He’s very reliable and when you know they’re going to the paddocks, you just want him to run well for him – to finish on a good note.”
Roly Poly has been a revelation for trainer Aidan O’Brien, winning three times at the top level, including a victory over subsequent Queen Elizabeth II Stakes heroine Persuasive in the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.
“She’s a very solid filly and has progressed with every run. It’s amazing what she’s done this season,” said O’Brien who also saddles Lancaster Bomber, another to struggle in the Ascot mud.
Meanwhile the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint is the stage for what promises to be a thrilling decider between star speedballs Marsha and Lady Aurelia.
The Sir Mark Prescott-trained Marsha could only finish third when Wesley Ward’s American bullet Lady Aurelia dominated her rivals to claim her second Royal Ascot success in the King’s Stand Stakes in June.
However, that form was reversed in a pulsating renewal of the Nunthorpe Stakes at York in August when Marsha, and jockey Luke Morris, got up on the line to deny Lady Aurelia whose rider, Frankie Dettori, was already celebrating victory.
A strong race also features the Charlie Hills-trained Cotai Glory as jockey Oisin Murphy makes his Breeders Cup debut,
Prescott said: “We did beat Lady Aurelia last time, but everything was probably in our favour that day and everything will probably be in her favour this day.
“Also, as is so often the case when people think it’s a two-horse race – the Nunthorpe was a good example – sometimes it’s not the horses you think. It could be Cotai Glory or one of those good American sprinters. One of them could easily blow holes in everybody.”
Meanwhile dual Guineas winner Churchill bids to provide the aforementioned O’Brien with a fairytale ending to an historic year by securing the Ballydoyle handler with an elusive first success in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
O’Brien broke the worldwide record for number of Group One winners trained in a calendar year when Saxon Warrior clinched the trainer’s 26th top-level triumph of 2017 in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster seven days ago.
And it will be right up there with the biggest achievements of his career if he can finally break his duck in the Classic, having come very close with Giant’s Causeway (2000) and Henrythenavigator (2008).
O’Brien said: “It’s a massive race and a race we’d always love to win, but it’s a tough race and obviously we haven’t won it. We take the horses as they come along. With Churchill, I’ve always thought that he could end up in the Classic.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the very best of this horse. The dirt is obviously the big question for him this week, but he’s a big powerful horse and is built to handle it.”