John Gosden, one of Europe’s leading trainers, retains a strong belief in the Breeders’ Cup despite the challenging nature of 2020.
The English handler has five wins at the Breeders’ Cup on his CV already and will be sending a trio of runners to Keeneland next month seeking further glory.
Gosden routinely sends a small but select team to the American meeting and he’s continuing that trend in 2020, despite the pandemic leaving him unable to travel to Kentucky.
Gosden will have a team in Keeneland to handle things on the ground, while he quips that jockey Frankie Dettori will relish the chance to ‘play trainer’ himself.
“My staff all had Covid-19 tests [on Tuesday] and they were all negative. I have a full team going, but I won’t be there myself, sadly. I’ll leave it to them and Mr. Dettori – he likes to play trainer to, so he can do both jobs,” Gosden suggested.
“I’ve been a passionate believer in it since it started at Hollywood Park,” Gosden said. “I remember so many people turned up that we ran out of programs. I always have had my heart in it from all the way through.”
Lord North, a Group 1 scorer at Royal Ascot this summer will be joined in the Breeders’ Cup Turf by stablemate Mehdaayih. The former finished last in the Champion Stakes at Ascot earlier this month but Gosden suggests the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes hero can be readily forgiven that run.
“His last race was run on a quagmire,” Gosden said during a teleconference facilitated by Breeders’ Cup. “We had record rain here in October. You were running in the deepest ground I’ve ever seen. It was that drying out ground that becomes very sticky, very gluey.”
“We’re looking forward to running him. He worked nicely this morning with Frankie Dettori on him. The plane leaves here on Friday.”
Mehdaayih meanwhile has only had two starts this term, behind Lord North (sixth) in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and this month over 1m4f on soft ground at Ascot in the Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes where she was fourth. Her trainer expects her to be fitter now.
“She ran in the Prince of Wales first race of the year for us and she worked well into it, but she ricked her back in the race and she didn’t run that great so we had a whole time off with her,” Gosden added.
“We only just managed to get her back to the races the other day. She ran valiantly on very testing ground over the mile and a half and ran a really good race, just struggled with fitness on it.”
Completing the Gosden trio will be Terebellum, the filly having thrice run with credit in Group 1 races in Britain this season. She almost won the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot in June and both runs since have been on soft ground.
Her upcoming run in the Filly & Mare Turf will be the final act of her career at the races, Gosden confirms.
“It was very, very soft ground for Newmarket. She found that a little bit testing. She’s in top form, ready for this race and she’ll be then heading to the breeding shed afterwards,” Gosden said.