Ribchester has been given the go-ahead to run and he could go end a highly successful season in the best manner possible: with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Having taken the Lockinge and broken the track record in the Queen Anne Stakes, soft ground has since prevented Ribchester from showing himself in his best light. Nonetheless, a victory in the Prix du Moulin – a prep used by Goldikova before her first Mile victory – and a fine second in the QEII show the fire within was not extinguished by the downpour that fell as he succumbed to 20-1 shot Here Comes When in the Sussex Stakes in August. Ribchester had looked a potential champion when last encountering quick conditions and he remains the one to beat. His speed should serve him well and only questions about the quick turnaround after a hard race at Ascot and a potentially short price. With a deep and competitive field, perhaps this is a place to reach for something at the higher end of the odds spectrum.
Wise Dan used the Woodbine Mile as a prep race for his two Mile victories, and this year's winner, World Approval, is the best of the home contingent. In many ways, the two horses are similar, both late-maturing sorts who took a while to find their niche, but achieved new heights when they did. World Approval simply looks really solid, although he has not been missed in the betting and appears to have been priced up short enough in the market.
Another longshot to consider is Zelzal. Blighted by a virus in the early part of the year, Jean-Claude Rouget had endured a terrible season, but he could end it on a high thanks to this talented colt. A confirmed hold-up performer, he will need some luck but undoubtedly has the ability to figure. He's had something of truncated season, but shaped with immense promise last time in the Prix de la Foret, which has been used as a successful Mile prep by the last three European winners of the race (Goldikova twice and Karakontie). Trapped a bit wide and held up off a steady pace, he made smooth progress down the outside in the straight, only for his run to peter out close home. He very much shaped as though he would come on for the run and faster ground should suit – given a strong pace, he can make his presence felt.
With Ribchester and World Approval taking a big chunk out of the market, there is very likely to be some good value elsewhere and perhaps the best could be Lancaster Bomber. One can argue that the Coolmore runner, second to World Approval at Woodbine, ran just as well. Whereas World Approval had a perfect ground saving journey through the race, Lancaster Bomber was wide and had to take up. UK-based punters may point out that Lancaster Bomber will be getting less weight here but the trips were still a significant factor. Lancaster Bomber has a patchy profile overall, but it looks as though he needs decent ground and patently did too much, too soon in the QEII last time. His second to Barney Roy would give him excellent claims and he hasn't got much to find with the two market leaders. He has thrived under US conditions before and is an interesting longshot at odds of 20-1 or higher.
Suedois has been brilliantly trained by David O'Meara, who has transformed him from a disappointing and hard-to-win-with sprinter to a high-class miler. He broke his Grade 1 duck last time out in the Shadwell Mile, delivered perfectly by the excellent Danny Tudhope to run down Heart To Heart late on (Heart To Heart will probably set the pace here again but is unlikely to have enough in the tank to hang on against this group). Suedois has a bit to find, but Wise Dan showed that the Shadwell Mile is a suitable Breeders' Cup prep and Suedois should not be disgraced. It may turn out, however, that last time was the time you wanted to be backing him.
The horse who was third in the Shadwell Turf Mile, Ballagh Rocks, ran sneaky well in there as he has for much of the year. He made a bold, wide bid there, and as an improving four-year-old in good hands of Bill Mott (who trained Tourist to a longshot win last year) could move forward once again at a massive price.
Home Of The Brave is another outsider, a seven-furlong specialist who appears unsuited by the two-turn mile. He was drilled in the turf sprint and may face a similar fate here.
Awesome Slew deserves a look for longshot players.He prepped well enough in the Ack Ack at Churchill Downs last time, making an aggressive wide move. He's behind the best of these on form and figures but has been working well and 20-1 is too big of a price.
Verdict: Ballagh Rocks is worth a flutter at odds of 33-1. Ribchester really isn’t a bad play at 3-1 or higher.