By Geoffrey Riddle
Richard Fahey confirmed on Racing UK’s Luck On Sunday programme that he would not hesitate to take Ribchester to the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar in a fortnight were he to be given the green light by owners Godolphin.
Ribchester once again found the soft ground blunted his natural speed when second to the grey mare Persuasive in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
It was the second time rain-softened ground had caused the four-year-old colt to come unstuck, after he was second to Here Comes When at Goodwood in the summer.
Fahey has said for several months that he has been eyeing the Breeders’ Cup, and was in no mood to change his mind on Sunday morning.
“He has won on soft ground and I’d love to get him back on decent ground but every time we enter him it ends up soft,” Fahey said.
“I did contemplate taking him out [of the Queen Elizabeth]. I walked the track beforehand, and didn’t think it walked that bad. I was surprised by how the jockeys said it rode so I wont get caught out again.
“At the minute I would have to speak to Sheikh Mohammed, [chief executive] Joe Osborne and the team. He left one nut and trotted up like a daisy. He has come out of the race well."
Asked whether he would want to take Ribchester should Sheikh Mohammed give his blessing Fahey replied: “I would be more than happy to take him. We’d have to bring Ribchester in to that conversation as well. We’ll give him a couple of canters this week and see how he his. If any horse could do it is Ribchester. He loves his job and loves his work.”
Ribchester’s price for the Breeders’ Cup Mile on November 4 slid out to as big as 9-2 with William Hill on Saturday behind World Approval, Mark Casse’s five-year-old who scooped the Woodbine Mile at the expense of Lancaster Bomber and who is the 7-2 favourite.
Dean Ivory also confirmed on Luck On Sunday that he is eyeing international targets for Librisa Breeze, after the five-year-old handed him his first Group One victory in the Qipco British Champions Sprint on Saturday.
Librisa Breeze chalked up his first Group One success, and his third win at Ascot, under Robert Winston.
It was Librisa Breeze’s fourth start of the campaign, and the grey has more under the bonnet for a end-of-season push.
“We’ll talk to the owners but we have several options on the table and he seems very well this morning,” Ivory said on Sunday.
“We led him out on the horsewalker and he’s had a pick of grass.
“It took a lot out of him yesterday and we’ll get together and decide.
“We’ve got Hong Kong and Australia, and we got our Hong Kong entry in yesterday. I lost a few hours sleep last night wondering where the horse is going to go.”
It is difficult to discern exactly what Poet’s Word achieved in defeat to Cracksman in Saturday’s Champion Stakes but connections are keen to give Sir Michael Stoute’s charge a spin on the world stage.
Poet’s Word finished seven lengths adrift of Cracksman in ground that was bordering on heavy, having previously posted his best performance when second behind Decorated Knight in the Irish equivalent on good ground.
Poet’s Word is by Poet’s Voice, a horse who was second in the 2011 Jebel Hatta, before going on to run down the field in the Dubai World Cup and Poet’s Word could well emulate his sire by running at Meydan in the spring.
"I'm sure he'll definitely come back next year and we have a lot to look forward to. He stays really well and is getting better,” Bruce Raymond, ownr Saeed Suhail’s racing manager, said.
"Poet's Word may go to Dubai early next year as the owner would be keen but we'll see what happens."
It seems an age ago that Highland Reel won the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot from subsequent Irish Champion hero Decorated Knight, but he ran a fine race in third at Ascot on Saturday.
Ryan Moore played the old trick of seeking out better ground under the trees on the far side and the old war horse stuck on well on completely unsuitable ground to be just pipped a neck by Poet’s Word.
It was Highland Reel’s first race since he was fourth behind Enable in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and is a best-priced 7-2 for the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar. Ulysses, who skipped Champions Day, is the 9-4 favourite.
"Ryan gave him a tactical ride going off on his own, which worked well. We are really pleased with the way he battled on to be third in ground that he didn't really appreciate,” Kevin Buckley, Coolmore's UK representative, said.
"Equally Highland Reel loves Ascot and never gives a bad performance here so we couldn't be happier.
"That will put him good shape for his trip to Del Mar and the Breeders Cup."
Big Orange has always hated soft ground, and it showed on Saturday when he was beaten a full six furlongs from home in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.
Big Orange was beaten 56 lengths by Order Of St George, and Michael Bell has vowed to not risk his stable flagbearer again on a rain-softened surface.
"It was just the ground," he said. "He's such a good-actioned horse but he was just spinning on it. He won't run on that kind of ground again.
"We live to fight another day and he'll go back to Dubai in March next."
Vazirabad, who runs in the Prix Royal Oak on Sunday, is the 2-1 favourite with Paddy Power to win a third Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan in March, while Big Orange is 8-1 to gain his revenge.