The Breeders’ Cup concluded in spectacular fashion with a thrilling ‘Classic’ going to the American trained Bayern, who just held off Jamie Osborne’s Toast Of New York.
California Chrome, who so nearly won the ‘Triple Crown’ earlier in the season, had to settle for third after the trio of colts battled head to head down the home straight. The race proved to be a fitting finale to a terrific Breeders’ Cup. The winning jockey wearing stars and stripes silks, finishing just ahead of his British opponent, kind of summed up the whole meeting.
Prior to Friday, confidence was high that the team of British and Irish horses would carry-off a decent number of major pots in America’s season ending extravaganza. Sir Michael Stoute had high hopes for Telescope in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, as well as Dank defending her crown in the Fillies and Mares. Toronado and Mustajeeb looked to be leading contenders in the BC Mile. Aidan O’Brien had his usual battalion going for prizes in a variety of races. And with a host of promising juveniles sent into battle, surely success was assured.
Unfortunately ‘Team America’ was in a far less generous mood than in recent years, and set about hogging the honours. Hootenanny, a Royal Ascot winner in June, set things in motion with a stunning win in the Juvenile Turf. At least Frankie was onboard, allowing us to claim a tenuous British assist.
Third and fourth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf was a great effort from Richard Hannon and Jamie Osborne with Osaila and Prize Exhibit respectively. Though day one had failed to deliver a prize to the invading troops, hopes remained high that fortunes would change on Saturday.
Early signs were worrying when American trainers Chad Brown and Wesley Ward continued where they’d left off the night before. Brown took first and second in the Filly and Mare Turf when his Dayatthespa and Stephanie’s Kitten got the better of Just The Judge and Dank. Ward’s Judy The Beauty ridden by the masterful Mike Smith won the Filly and Mare Sprint, before Brown again hit the target when Bobby’s Kitten edged out a pair of Ward runners in the BC Turf Sprint.
When the Breeders’ Cup Turf arrived it was France that came closest to breaking the American monopoly. Flintshire was unable to hold off ex Brit Main Sequence as the two battled to the line. Telescope was unable to match the finishing kick of the front two and had to settle for fourth.
Toronado was next to disappoint in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. It seems fair to say that Richard Hughes probably forced the issue a little too soon, and his horse faded badly nearing the finish. It was left to the French to finally wrestle a prize away from the home nation. Karakontie returned to the form he showed in the early part of the season, and stormed to victory at huge odds. He was chased home by fellow French trained Anodin, with Breeders’ Cup ‘nearly man’ Jamie Spencer in third.
Victories apart, it was still a terrific career finale for Jamie Spencer. He’s likely to feel both thrilled and gutted by his defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. In a few more strides he would surely have overhauled Bayern, bringing the curtain down in sensational fashion. Indeed it was a wonderful two days for both him and trainer Jamie Osborne, who’s Prize Exhibit had run with such promise a day earlier.
For Osborne it’s onwards and upwards, whilst for Spencer it’s time to reflect on what could have been. For jockeys such as Jamie, timing is everything. His decision to call time on his career as a jockey surprised many. Let’s hope that he reflects with pride on a terrific career, and doesn’t muse too much over chances that slipped through his fingers.