Sportsman Racing: One Last Hurrah For Goldikova?

Welcome to our latest column from Scott Armstrong of The Sportsman tipster service.

Each Friday, Scott provides us with a rundown of all the best weekend racing action – including the key  horses to follow and those to oppose. You can also find a recap from him each Monday on the SBC Blog with his reaction to the weekend’s events. Thorough, frank and not afraid to take a contrary view, Scott Armstrong is a racing man whose opinion you can’t afford to be without.

The Breeders Cup Stateside spectacular is the highlight of the weekend’s racing while in the UK there is a decent flat card at Doncaster including the November Handicap and some fine chasers and hurdlers make their seasonal outings at Wincanton.

The Breeders Cup Mile is the headline race of the weekend and the European horses head to Churchill Downs with a decent record of 19% wins from all runners at the track. The exceptional mare Goldikova will be hoping to say her farewell’s to a reverent public with a massive win and I believe she can. Successful on all three previous races in the Breeders Cup she loves this track and the manner of Stateside racing.

The rumour-mongers are saying Goldikova has lost her edge since she’s been beaten in three of her last four races. The reality is she would probably have defeated Canford Cliffs at Royal Ascot if Olivier Peslier had not put up overweight, while second places to Immortal Verse at Deauville and Dream Ahead at Longchamps still make her the form choice. In both those races where Goldikova finished second she was treated with leniency by Peslier. Goldikova’s entire season has been geared towards Saturday night, she has the plum draw in box 1 and will take all the beating at 7-4.

Second favourite Strong Suit holds a few concerns for his supporters. The step up to one-mile for the speedy three-year-old is a big ask as he will race prominently and will need staying power to last home. The fact Strong Suit hasn’t won in Group 1 company also needs to be overcome and though a wide draw in stall 11 is not insurmountable as Goldikova has herself shown it makes his race more difficult.

Preparation for the British challengers – Strong Suit, Sea Moon and Elusive Kate has also been disrupted, as track officials at Churchill Downs have refused to let those horses use the turf course to train on, owing to heavy rainfall. Richard Hannon jnr was disgusted saying “We had arranged to work Strong Suit around two bends on the turf course and this was our one and only chance to do it before the big day. They have ruined our chance of winning”. Strong words.

Andre Fabre’s Byword is an interesting contender at odds of 9-1. Goldikova only defeated Byword by a half-length in the Group 1 Prix D’Isaphan over 1m 1f last season and he is not without a chance.

Fourth in the bookmakers lists is Gio Ponti and the six-year-old should give his backers a decent run for their money at a best priced 10-1.

Courageous Cat, son of Storm Cat comes into the race off three solid performances and gave Goldikova a fright in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita in 2009 when clear heading for home before ultimately being cut down to size by Goldie.

Goldikova can seal an emotional triumph and retire in the style she has become accustomed to.

It has paid in recent years to side with European horses in the Breeders Cup Turf race with ten of the last thirteen runners hailing from Europe. French filly Sarafina is a solid Group One performer and although a disappointing favourite in the Arc, the going wasn’t ideal for her and I’m prepared to give the four-year-old another chance. There is plenty of rain forecast in Kentucky over the next few days and this will aid Sarafina’s cause at 11-4.

Sea Moon is the immediate danger in the market priced 4-1 and connections will also be pleased there is rain in the sky. Michael Stoute has a great record in the Breeders Cup Turf although as with Strong Suit preparation in Kentucky has been far from ideal. Sea Moon also need’s to step up significantly on his listless showing in the St Leger.

Third favourite Await The Dawn has been kept fresh for the race since disappointing back in August on the turf at York. Aidan O’Briens son of Giant Causeway would also need to improve on his last outing in the Juddmonte to land this very competitive affair.
Midday is admirably consistent having finished in the first there in nineteen of her twenty-two contests and could be the value at a best priced 11-2 for each-way backers. Henry Cecil’s mare has her quirks though having idled in the past when leading and hung markedly left in both the Champion Stakes and Juddmonte.

Finally, I mentioned back in August to back Paul Hanagan at 4-5 for the jockey’s championship. Silvestre de Sousa made a decent fist of briefly reigniting the jockey’s championship but Hanagan is the consummate professional and he’s done racing in the North proud without the support of the majority of big-name Newmarket trainers. Who would bet against him making it a hat-trick next year?


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