Depending on race times, at approximately nine forty five tonight, we should know if the European challenge has succeeded at the Breeders’ Cup Turf in Keeneland, Kentucky. It has been said that the European horses are much better on the Turf. Maybe so, but a feature race tonight at 9.33 is made up of horses where half the field is from European yards and the three market principals are trained in Ireland.
Aidan O’Brien is represented by Magical (9/4) and Mogul (X/30) as he bids for a seventh win in the mile and a half event.
Ryan Moore partners Magical as the mare steps up in trip after her third-place finish in the Champion Stakes on her most recent outing. Her best form may have come over shorter trips than the one she tackles here, but this daughter of Galileo does boast Group One-winning form against her own sex over 12 furlongs.
Magical’s most recent run over the distance came in last season’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, where her fifth-place finish behind Waldgeist reads quite well considering that she kept up with the hot early pace, and then was only just touched off by Enable in the 2018 running of this race at Churchill Downs.
The fact that this is a tight track and the ground currently riding good, it may be run to suit as they could go a nice even gallop. Mogul comes into the reckoning too, as does Tarnawa for the powerful Dermot Weld yard where Mogul claimed the first Group One of his career in the Grand Prix de Paris last time out. He’s long been highly regarded at Ballydoyle, but his Longchamp victory was the first time he lived up to his reputation during his Classic campaign, and there’s also a suspicion that he was slightly flattered by the visual impression he made that day in the French capital.
Pierre-Charles Boudot’s decision to allow his mount to sit well off the blistering fractions set by the trailblazers reaped major dividends late on and it’s worth noting that his three nearest pursuers at the line were all returning from lengthy absences and lacking race-fitness.
Mogul will relish this fast surface, but he might also need a fast pace to be seen at his very best.
After weighing up all the facts for this race, Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa (7/2) looks like a sound option having really improved this year.
She made a belated winning return to the track in August before capturing the Group One Prix Vermeille in stunning style. Not entered in the Arc, Tarnawa dropped down in distance and followed up in the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp’s flagship meeting.
Sectional times from those two victories confirm that the daughter of Sharmadal, possesses a remarkable turn of foot. That’s the main weapon in her armory, and it’s one that decides races everywhere, but particularly US turf races.
Christophe Soumillon has quickly developed a formidable relationship with this mare. His coronavirus-enforced absence has to be regarded as a negative, but deputy Colin Keane will be aware of her running style and the need for a patient waiting ride before delivering that finishing effort.
The remainder of the European team is rounded off by the John Gosden-trained duo of Lord North (9/1) and Mehdaayih (20/1), and German raider Donjah. Mehdaayih is the outsider of the Gosden runners, but has stamina in her locker, something that her stablemate may not. She also arrives here fresh after an interrupted campaign, unlike a number of her rivals.
So, what about the home challenge? Does there appear to be something coming from the American ranks? If there is to be an American fly in the ointment for the European contingent, it may just come in the form of the quirky Channel Maker. He races with a rather ungainly high head carriage and he’s capable of throwing in a few clunkers, but on his day the six-year-old gelding is an impressive performer.
Channel Maker does seem a need-to-lead sort and one who would prefer a little more give in the ground, but while the going may be against him, he might just benefit from a pace scenario which grants him an uncontested advantage early on. It sets us up for an excellent race and good luck to all the entries.