A return to the Breeders’ Cup is top of the agenda for Modern Games after doing a fine job as super-sub in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
The day two feature was due to stage a mouthwatering clash between the brilliant Baaeed, unbeaten in eight previous outings for William Haggas, and Charlie Appleby’s 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes hero Coroebus.
But hopes of seeing Baaeed concede 8lb to a Classic and Royal Ascot winner on the Sussex Downs were dashed last week, with connections announcing Coroebus had suffered a setback.
In his absence, Appleby called on Modern Games – a top-class horse in his own right as a winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and the French 2000 Guineas.
And while he was ultimately no match for 1-6 favourite Baaeed, Appleby was justifiably thrilled with his performance in being beaten a length and three-quarters into second place.
“He is like his father (Dubawi), he goes down on his sword,” said the Moulton Paddocks handler.
“Everyone said to me you’ve got your substitute, but he is no substitute – he has won a Breeders’ Cup and a French Guineas. I’d like to have a few more substitutes like that!
“William (Buick) has given him a great ride, we were in the box seat. The winner is a very good horse, (I’m) full of plaudits for the winner.”
Considering future plans, Appleby added: “We have always worked back from the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and that is going to be the plan.
“I don’t think you will see him now (in Britain) – he will either go to Canada or Keeneland and then to Kentucky for the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
“I hope he will stay in training. I feel that with the horses we have to potentially retire to the farm, he deserves to stay in for another year and could have another crack at it.”
Appleby would not be drawn on how he felt Coroebus would have fared against Baaeed, but said with a wry smile: “It would have been a good race, but there we are.
“It didn’t happen and everyone is going to have their thoughts about it. From my point of view I’m delighted with this horse, but it would have been fun having Coroebus in the race for sure.”
Last year’s Sussex heroine Alcohol Free finished an honourable third in the defence of her crown.
Having proved her versatility trip-wise by bagging a third Group One victory in last month’s July Cup at Newmarket, trainer Andrew Balding has plenty of options going forward.
He said: “Alcohol Free has run a marvellous race. I thought Rob Hornby did a beautiful job of getting her to settle.
“She was checked at a crucial stage, but she would not have got anywhere near the winner. However, despite losing some momentum, she has put her head down and stayed on right the way to the line.
“William Haggas couldn’t believe how much she had developed as you sort of miss it when you see her every day. She has really developed into a fantastic looking racemare and we are thrilled with her.
“I’m leaving future plans up to Jeff (Smith, owner). We’ve entered everything over six furlongs up to a mile at Group One level so it’s up to him.
“The filly will tell us to a certain extent, but anything is possible. It could be France, the Matron Stakes or the Haydock Sprint Cup. She owes us nothing and she is thriving at the minute, but as soon as we think she has had enough, that will be that.”