Europeans limber up as Frankie Dettori and Aidan O'Brien get a view of Del Mar

Tue 31 Oct 2017

Del Mar has welcomed a record number of European runners to its first hosting of the Breeders' Cup.

A raiding party totalling 35 beats by five the previous record of 30 that visited Santa Anita in 2009.

The numerical statistics do not, however, suggest that bigger is better, because in spite of six winners emanating from the 2009 championships, there was a better percentage result in 2013.

On that occasion, when the event was also staged at Santa Anita, just 16 horses from Europe participated, but that number produced five winners in the shape of London Bridge, Outstrip, Chriselliam, Dank and Magician.

At Tuesday morning's track work, the Gordon Elliott-trained Juvenile Turf contender Beckford was the first horse to leave the quarantine barn in virtual darkness at 6.30am, being followed out by several of the best-fancied European runners, including Ulysses and Ribchester.

Frankie Dettori was in attendance as he prepares for his first ever rides at the track, as was the record-breaking Aidan O'Brien

Roger Varian, who runs Nezwaah in the Filly & Mare Turf on Saturday and Madeline in the Juvenile Fillies Turf 24 hours earlier, has had a runner at Del Mar but had never visited the course until now.

He said: "It's nice to come here with two fillies that have chances and should not be out of place. Nezwaah is a very good filly, but firm ground is pretty well essential for her.

"That was mirrored in her season, where she got the ground on her first two starts but then found conditions against her when she was withdrawn from the Nassau, ran on soft in the Yorkshire Oaks and soft to heavy in places when she went to Canada for the E.P. Taylor.

"While the ground is a plus here, her draw in 11 and the sharp nine furlongs might make it tough for her to show her very best form, but she is a Group One winner (Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh) and I don't think that was a fluke.

"She has to bounce back, but there's every chance in my view that she will."

He said of Cheveley Park Stakes third Madeline: "She is not proven over further than six furlongs, but in the Lowther she was staying on strongly to the line and on that basis I am confident she will get the trip.

"Furthermore she has a very nice draw in four and she should run a real good race."

Richard Spencer is hoping his Juvenile Turf contender Rajasinghe can overcome a wide draw.

He explained his colt had travelled out perfectly well and, under Stevie Donohoe, can silence his critics with a big run, in a race where the betting is dominated by European runners.

Spencer said: "I think you can safely put a line through his latest run, as the ground was on the slow side, but he will get fast conditions out here, which are ideal for him.

"If you look closely at his form, to finish as close as he did to U S Navy Flag in the Middle Park, he is right in there and we will have the headgear on this time.

"We will play it by ear, but Stevie will slot in where he can. It's very nice to be here and this is something we haven't taken lightly - we have come here with a gameplan."

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