Aidan O'Brien spun through his plans for Del Mar in a fortnight and highlighted that Highland Reel would bid for back-to-back wins in the Breeders' Cup Turf.Highland Reel winning the Brders' Cup Turf last season. (Eclipse Sportswire)
By Geoffrey Riddle
Highland Reel will lead the line for Aidan O’Brien at the Breeders’ Cup in Del Mar in a fortnight after the Irish trainer outlined his plans for the November 3-4 meeting in California.
Highland Reel set himself up for the defence of his Breeders' Cup Turf crown with a meritorious run in defeat in the Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, when the Irish trainer drew level with Bobby Frankel's world record 25 Group One wins for a campaign.
O'Brien's globetrotter finished third to Cracksman on unsuitably soft ground, but conditions are expected to be far more in his favour on Saturday week.
O'Brien was satisfied with the run, particularly as Highland Reel covered more ground than his rivals as jockey Ryan Moore looked for better ground down the far side.
"We were delighted with his run. He has been off a long time and he is not a soft-ground horse, but we were over the moon with his run," said O'Brien.
"That (America) is what we would be thinking about.
Highland Reel is a best-priced 7-2 to become the first horse since Sir Michael Stoute’s Conduit in 2009 to post consecutive wins in the 12-furlong event. O'Brien has won the Turf six times previously, and three times in the past four runnings.
Clemmie, the Cheveley Park winner, was as short as 5-2 favourite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf, but is set to miss out and will not run again this season.
Happily, who beat the colts in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagadere on Arc day three weeks ago could fill the breach alongside stable companion September, the Fillies’ Mile runner-up.
"September was second in the Fillies' Mile and could go, and Happily didn't run at Newmarket so we will see how she is and she could go there. Clemmie is finished for the year,” he said.
"US Navy Flag is a possible (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf), as are the other horses that ran in the Dewhurst (Mendelssohn, Senga, Threeandfourpence).”
O’Brien could also have a runner in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race he has yet to win, while Caravaggio, who ran third to Librisa Breeze, could also head West.
"I'm not sure about Hydrangea, but Rhododendron will go for the fillies' race and Roly Poly will either go for that or the Mile," he added.
"We will see how Churchill is in the next few days and the lads will make a decision on what they want to do with him. It will be the same with Caravaggio.
"He could go up in trip, but I don't think he needs to.
"Yesterday (British Champions Sprint) he was coming along grand and he had to move out and met a bad bit of ground up the middle. Then when he got in off it he got going again, but it was just too late.
"Declarationofpeace is going for a five-furlong race out there on grass. War Decree could go for the Classic or the Mile."