With the late withdrawal of Ulysses, suddenly the Group One Breeders’ Cup Turf looks a lot weaker, but last year’s winner and current favourite Highland Reel is back for more after running a blinder on ground he’d have hated at Ascot on Champions Day.
He has a great chance back on his favourite fast ground, of course, but 11/8 isn’t much of a price now and he’s certainly beatable.
Irish Champion Stakes winner Decorated Knight will again be overpriced and underrated for this, and he’ll love the quick ground too.
He’s notched three Group One races this year and still I doubt his form – particularly the Irish Champion Stakes which doesn’t look the deepest renewal in hindsight, and such late swooping tactics are unlikely to pay dividends at Del Mar.
The one I really like is SEVENTH HEAVEN, a favourite of ours who won with the burden of our hard earned in the Yorkshire Oaks last season, beating the mighty past champion of this race and Arc winner Found.
That was on good-to-firm ground at York – albeit a very different track to Del Mar – but it proved her Group One class beyond doubt and she comes into this race somewhat under the radar.
This is likely to be her final career start, so with an underwhelming couple of prep runs on ground she would have hated this autumn, she will be primed to run the race of her life.
Quick conditions at Del Mar will really suit her, though the tight turns might not as her galloping style wasn’t seen to her best in the fillies’ race at the Breeders’ Cup last year, where Queen’s Trust got up to beat Lady Eli.
Crucially, that was over two furlongs shorter than this – and she definitely needs the full mile-and-a-half trip to hit top gear.
I’m relaxed about the draw (9) given she’s going to be dropped in midfield anyway, and provided she enjoys a smooth passage I am struggling to see her not involved in the finish.
Finally, I have to give a shout out to Cliffs Of Moher, who looked bogged down in the Champions Day mud but had previously looked very unlucky not to finish closer in the Irish Champion Stakes.
His Derby form is very strong and he hasn’t raced over a mile-and-a-half since, particularly on quick ground, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him fill a place at least.
Champion sire Galileo could easily have the first three places here.
1pt each-way Seventh Heaven @9/1, 23:37 Del Mar, SaturdayLeave a comment