Tag Archive for: Barry Irwin

Facteur Cheval camp keen to conquer America after Ascot

Facteur Cheval is likely to head to Royal Ascot after his Dubai World Cup night heroics in Meydan.

Jerome Reynier’s five-year-old has been the most consistent of operators when campaigning predominantly over a mile, finishing no worse than third in six starts in top company last season and ending the campaign by chasing home Big Rock at Ascot on British Champions Day.

Upped in distance to nine furlongs for a red-hot renewal of the Dubai Turf, the French challenger finally got his moment in the spotlight, revelling around the turns of Meydan to prevail by a short head in the hands of Maxime Guyon.

Further international assignments could be on the horizon once a trip to Royal Ascot for the meeting-opening Queen Anne Stakes is out of the way, with connections keen to explore more opportunities to race around a bend.

“I think the conditions favoured him and he’s more of an American type of horse to tell the truth,” said Barry Irwin, CEO of Team Valor, who own the horse in partnership with Gary Barber.

“I think he wants to run on a round track and with a pace to run at.

“He can handle any kind of surface, but I think he prefers a sounder surface and most of those races in Europe he ran in when he was finishing second and third, they were too tactical – especially in France, where they go so slow – and he doesn’t have that instant burst of speed.

“I think now we have figured out what he enjoys doing, we’re going to figure out a programme around that.

“We will go to Ascot probably and run in the Queen Anne because it’s an exciting race and people would like to see it, but after that I think we will focus on international races on a round course.”

Facteur Cheval could also be seen plying his trade on dirt before the end of the year, having impressed in his trackwork on that particular surface out in the Middle East.

Although no concrete plans are made, that would bring some valuable prizes in America into the equation, including the season-ending Breeders’ Cup, which this year takes place at Del Mar in November.

Facteur Cheval at Goodwood last summer
Facteur Cheval at Goodwood last summer (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“Another thing is, he trained great on the dirt over there in Meydan and I think we will try him on that also,” continued Irwin.

“I wouldn’t run him in the Breeders’ Cup Mile because that is two turns and at Del Mar it is too tight a turf course and he’s too big a horse to adapt to that.

“Santa Anita would be a little better but a mile and a quarter on dirt is something we will take a good look at. We haven’t planned anything yet after Ascot, but after that every option is open.”

Irwin also reserved special praise for the son of Ribchester’s handler, who he credits with formulating the successful Dubai Turf plan.

He added: “I’ve got to give all my credit to my trainer and he figured the whole thing out.

“He took a chance not prepping the horse beforehand and he knew what he had. For a young guy, he is quite the thinker and a very impressive individual.”