Sunday 19 November 2017

O'Brien falls short on night of near misses

Wuheida and William Buick the nine-furlong Filly and Mare Turf at the Breeders Cup
Wuheida and William Buick the nine-furlong Filly and Mare Turf at the Breeders Cup

John Brennan

The Breeders Cup meeting was a case of hitting the crossbar all night for Aidan O'Brien. Two seconds in huge races were as much as the Irish maestro could manage as the $25million dollar meeting took place at Del Mar outside San Diego last night.

Lancaster Bomber ran a great race to finish second in the Mile behind World Approval, the Americen favourite who was the first 'jolly' to oblige on a night of upsets.

It was the first Breeders Cup at the tight track and it did not just catch out the European challengers, many fancied home hopes hit the dirt on a huge evening for horse racing in America.

Jockey Seamie Heffernan gave Lancaster Bomber every chance, but World Approval was just too good for him, winning by two lengths. O'Brien's other challenger in the mile, Roly Poly, never got into the contest as her outside draw proved to be a handicap she could not overcome.

The Irish trainer went close to adding another victory to Mendelssohn's Friday night success when Rhododendron came another fighting second in the nine-furlong Filly and Mare Turf. Drawn badly on the outside, jockey Ryan Moore had no option but to settle Rhododendron in at the back and wait for an opening.

When it came, the three-year-old surged through the field with a great sprint, but one bird had flown. That was the English horse Wuheida, trained by Charlie Appleby and which provided William Buick with his first-ever Breeders' Cup win.

Buick - who was left in tears when The Fugue was caught close home by Moore and Magician in the 2013 running of the Turf and missed a large part of this summer when injured in the fatal fall of Permian in America in August - said: "I can't explain it, it means everything to me.

"I've had plenty of goes and not been successful, so it means everything. My feelings are ones of joy, as it is always tough coming here into the back yard of the Americans, and although I have been to a few Breeders' Cups it is my first winner at one. It's a big team effort - a big thank you to everyone at home."

Earlier in the evening, O'Brien had a winner when Declarationofpeace under a daring ride from Moore swooped to win the Juvenile Sprint. But as this was a Group 2 race, it didn't add to his world record tally of Group 1 wins across the world in 2017

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