America is preparing for the biggest invasion since the Beatles this weekend ahead of the 35th edition of the Breeders’ Cup. European-based trainers are sending 45 horses to Churchill Downs, with 39 confirmed starters across Friday and Saturday evening.
We’ve checked out the European team this time around, and seen what there is to learn from years gone by.
Who’ve Europe got?
The European charge is headed by back-to-back Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Enable.
John Gosden’s raider is lightly-raced this season and looks set to go off as the odds-on favourite in the Turf. If she doesn’t clean up, then Magical, Waldgeist or Talismanic could.
It’s a similar story in the Mile. Maurice de Gheest winner Polydream is a comfortable favourite for Freddy Head, with Oscar Performance the only US-trained raider anywhere near the filly.
Europe has seven other darts in the race, including Expert Eye for Sir Michael Stoute and I Can Fly, who will be ridden patiently by Jamie Spencer.
Meanwhile, Charlie Appleby will be looking for back-to-back wins in the Filly & Mare Turf – this time with Wild Illusion. Chad Brown is the only US trainer to have tasted success in this since 2012.
Anthony Van Dyck and Line of Duty are the two favs in the Juvenile Turf, while Soldier’s Call and Sergei Prokofiev are well clear in the Juvenile Turf Sprint for Archie Watson and Aidan O’Brien respectively.
There are also a number of game chances for Europe in the Fillies Turf, plus two in the Turf Sprint and Mendelssohn, Roaring Lion and Thunder Snow in the Classic.
What have we learnt?
European trainers have had a mixed time of it at the Breeders’ Cup over the last half-decade.
While the last three years have produced three (2017), two (2016) and two winners (2016), Karakontie was the only success in 2014 for Jonathan Pease.
Our best raid over the last five years was in 2013, when five horses trained on the continent enjoyed success at Santa Anita.
Indeed, Europe has only drawn a blank four times in the event’s history. The last was in 2007.
Since then, Britain, Ireland and co. have returned home with five or six race wins on three separate occasions.
The continent has a particularly good record in the Filly & Mare Turf, where European-based trainers account for seven of the race’s 11 winners.
Weather could be an issue this time around, with heavy rain expected in Kentucky as the weekend draws closer. That could make conditions difficult, especially in dirt races like the Classic.
Regardless, Europe has a strong team to go into battle, with a number of big race favourites and lively contenders across the two days.
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