Pepper primed to spearhead Harrington’s Keeneland trio

Cayenne Pepper will lead a three-strong team for Jessica Harrington at next week’s Breeders’ Cup.

The Moone-based handler has established herself as one the sport’s great dual-purpose trainers during a career spanning 30 years.

As well as being the most successful female trainer at the Cheltenham Festival, where her triumphs include two Champion Chases with Moscow Flyer, a Champion Hurdle with Jezki and the Gold Cup with Sizing John, she has becoming increasingly potent on the Flat in recent years.

Harrington broke new ground last season when Albigna became her first ever runner at the Breeders’ Cup, finishing fourth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita, and she will this year head to Keeneland with high hopes of opening her account.

Cayenne Pepper appears a leading contender for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, while Cadillac and Oodnadatta are set to contest the Juvenile Turf and the Juvenile Fillies Turf respectively.

Cayenne Pepper would be a particularly poignant winner following the death of her American owner Jon Kelly earlier this year.

Harrington said: “Cayenne Pepper’s owners Sarah and Jon, when he was alive, couldn’t come over to see Cayenne Pepper run this summer, so I said if it was in any way possible, we’d bring her to the Breeders’ Cup.

“Cadillac won a ‘win and you’re in’ for the Juvenile Turf at Leopardstown. There are also some American owners in the syndicate that own him, so we thought it was probably a good idea to send him as well.

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“We added Oodnadatta because she ran in the Moyglare and there wasn’t really anything else. She wants a bit of nice ground and everywhere we wanted to go, like the Arc meeting at Longchamp and Newmarket, the ground was soft.

“As the other two were going, we said we’d take her and I think she’s going there with an each-way chance.”

Cayenne Pepper kicked off her campaign by finishing runner-up to the top-class older filly Magical in the Pretty Polly Stakes, before finishing second in the Irish Oaks at the Curragh and the Give Thanks Stakes at the Curragh.

A drop in trip helped her get back to winning ways with an impressive victory in the Group Two Blandford Stakes on her return to the Curragh last month.

Cayenne Pepper following her latest victory
Cayenne Pepper following her latest victory (PA)

“Sarah is going to be there, so let’s hope the filly can run a big race and show her true colours in Jon’s memory,” Harrington continued.

“I suppose I’d love to be drawn three or four – towards the inside, but not on the rail. I don’t really want to be drawn out wide.

“I would like no extremes of ground – I don’t want it too firm and I don’t want it too wet. Good ground would be fine.”

Cadillac bolted up on his Leopardstown debut in early July, before being touched off by recent Vertem Futurity Trophy winner Mac Swiney in the Futurity Stakes at the Curragh the following month.

The Lope De Vega colt then slammed subsequent French Group One winner Van Gogh in a Group Two on his return to Leopardstown, but could only finish fifth when stepped up to the highest level for the Dewhurst at Newmarket.

Cadillac is an exciting juvenile for the Harrington team
Cadillac is an exciting juvenile for the Harrington team (PA)

“He just got stuck in the mud in the Dewhurst. I should have been very grown up and taken him out, but it’s a very hard thing to do when you’re over there and it’s a Group One,” Harrington explained.

“When Mac Swiney beat him at the Curragh it was very soft, holding ground and Shane (Foley, jockey) said he knew going to the start he didn’t like it.

“He’s quite a laid back horse. We were very surprised when he won his maiden as he never impresses you at home and just goes through the motions, so we never really know how he is.”

Oodnadatta also won on her racecourse introduction at Leopardstown, before finishing fifth in the Silver Flash and third in the Moyglare Stud Stakes.

Harrington added: “She won first time out and unfortunately her second race was a complete non-event, as she got bumped coming out of the stalls and never had a chance of getting into it.

“She did run very well in the Moyglare over seven furlongs and all she was doing was staying on.

“Hopefully a fast-run race over a mile will suit her.”

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