There’s plenty of strength in depth to racing in this part of the world but the reputation of thoroughbreds emanating from Britain and Ireland is enhanced by their staying power, a fact reinforced by the large number of Australian buyers actively seeking Cup prospects last week at the Tattersalls Horses-in-Training Sale.
Two British raiders earned themselves an automatic berth in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup after posting gutsy Group wins on VRC Derby Day at Flemington, with the Andrew Balding-trained Side Glance recording another Australian Group 1 success for Sheikh Fahad’s Pearl Bloodstock with victory in the Mackinnon Stakes and Ruscello landing the Group 3 Lexus Stakes.
Side Glance will not line up on Tuesday – Sheikh Fahad already has former winner Dunaden in the line-up – but Ruscello, trained by Ed Walker and recently sold to OTI Racing after being campaigned in the UK by owner Laurence Bellman, takes the final place in the Melbourne Cup field, expelling the Bart Cummings-trained Moonee Valley Cup winner Precedence in the process.
Side Glance becomes the first Group 1 winner for his sire Passing Glance, who stands at David and Kathleen Holmes’ Pitchall Farm Stud in Warwickshire. Like his son, Passing Glance was trained by Andrew Balding, for whom he won twice at Group level, and was bred by the Balding family at their Kingsclere Stud.
Ruscello, by Cape Cross, is a graduate of the successful Irish nursery Ballymacoll Stud, his dam Sea Picture being a Royal Academy half-sister to the great mare Hellenic.
Ruscello’s close relation Islington took the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita ten years ago, and her trainer Sir Michael Stoute struck again in the same race this time around with Dank, now a dual Grade 1 winner in the states following her success in the Beverly D. Stakes in August.
Bred and raced by James Wigan, Dank extended the extraordinary run of success this year for her sire Dansili, who came agonisingly close to recording a notable Breeders’ Cup double when his daughter The Fugue was caught in the shadow of the post in the Turf by the fast-closing Magician, trained by Aidan O’Brien.
While John Gosden’s team was out of luck, British trainers Charlie Hills, Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby and Jo Hughes each recorded their first win at America’s self-styled ‘Thoroughbred World Championships’.
For Hills, Chriselliam proved that her Shadwell Fillies’ Mile victory was no fluke when striding out to an emphatic win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf for owners Chris Wright, Willie Carson and Emily Asprey. Godolphin’s Exceed And Excel colt Outstrip lived up to his name when getting the better of Ballydoyle’s Giovanni Boldini in the Juvenile Turf, while London Bridge provided Jo Hughes with a day she’ll never forget – even though she forsook the sunshine of California to watch his Breeders’ Cup Marathon win from a betting shop in Swindon.
With six British-bred runners in the Melbourne Cup (Red Cadeaux, Sea Moon, Brown Panther, Foreteller, Dandino and Masked Marvel) and five representing British-based owners or trainers, there could yet be plenty more for Great British Racing to cheer about this week.