Not since the rail-running victory of Sir Henry Cecil's Midday in 2009 have Europe reigned supreme in the Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf, but with the Cup returning to Santa Anita yet again this year, Europe have set dead aim on regaining the turf tiara with a quintuple hand of exceptional ability.
Spearheaded by John Gosden's The Fugue, Europe send their strongest team ever to sniff out victory in the Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf this year. Unlucky in defeat last time out in the Yorkshire Oaks, a race which saw her fall at the hands of Shareta, The Fugue showed her outstanding turn of foot to surge to victory in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in August. Impressive in the Group 2 Musidora Stakes at York in May, John Gosden has been quick to state that The Fugue has not had the ground conditions, upon which she thrives, since that York race. A long hard season has been endured by The Fugue, whom started off in the English 1000 Guineas in May, but if she were to be provided with the pace setup that her turn of foot thrives, she should go close to regaining that turf tiara for her Newmarket handler.
Coming into the race off the back of victory in the Group 1 Prix de L'Opera, Ridasiyna could, and probably should, have been coming into the Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf as an unbeaten, mouthwatering breeding prospect for His Highness the Aga Khan. However, a minor, unexplained blip in her preperation race for the French Group 1 saw Ridasiyna finish a disappointing fifth-place. How she will handle the firm turf of the Santa Anita course is open to debate, yet her class and quality is there for all to see.
Nahrain, who won the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park, and David Simcock's I'm A Dreamer complete the European team.
Richard Hannon has been out of luck at the Breeders Cup in years gone by. His stable stars, Paco Boy and Strong Suit, both came to the Championships with high hopes only to falter at the hands of classier foes. This season Team Hannon send just one horse, Sky Lantern, in a bid to set alight the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. With Champion Jockey Elect, Richard Hughes, aboard, Sky Lantern looks to break from stall three in a bid to follow up her impressive Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes victory.
A trainer who is quickly asserting himself as one to fear all over the globe, Mikel Dezangles is a trainer who seems to place his horses in the perfect spot. To many, the quad-raced Flotilla would not look an interesting proposition in this spot, yet to write Dezangles off in any spot such as this is a very bold statement. Waterway Run and Jeremy Noseda's intriguing The Gold Cheongsam complete the European raid on the race.
Aidan O'Brien's multi-Group 1 winning six year old, Fame and Glory, looks to end his career on a high in the Breeders Cup Marathon, a race that sees Fame and Glory try the dirt for the first time. A perrenial bridesmaid to the high class Sea The Stars in his Classic season, Fame and Glory has since gone on to win a multiude of high class Group 1 races, the biggest of which came in the Ascot Gold Cup of 2011. However, whilst he is the classiest horse in the race, a big question mark must be made over the horses desire for racing this year.
Cantering into the straight at Ascot last time out, Fame and Glory seemed to flatten out at an alarming rate, a cause for concern in a race such as the Breeders Cup Marathon. Sense of Purpose, a five year old which has failed to make into the high class stayer Dermot Weld had hoped, completes the dual European raid on the race.A winner at Royal Ascot in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes over five furlongs, Ceiling Kitty is the first horse to ship to America from the stabe of Tom Dascombe. The trainer of choice for English footballing sensation Michael Owen, who owns the stables at which Dasombe trains, Dascombe is very much one of the improving trainers to follow on the British circuit. However, Ceiling Kitty does look to be up against it in here after an extremely tiring campaign on a surface which poses a plethora of questions.