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Tom Eaves still on cloud nine after Breeders’ Cup win

Tom Eaves is still walking on air after his fairytale success aboard Glass Slippers in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland.

The North Yorkshire-based jockey has been overcome by the phone calls and text messages he has received after he rode the Kevin Ryan-trained four-year-old to become the first European winner of the race.

Eaves has watched the race many times since he got back home – which has made the obligatory self-isolation due to Covid-19 protocols more bearable.

“It’s still sinking in. It was amazing. She was absolutely class,” he said.

“I’ve watched the race back numerous times. There was a strong pace on. I was happy where I was early on, then you need the gaps to come.

“It was a great training performance by Kevin Ryan – to have her there in that form was a real credit.

“I’m on cloud nine. The phone hasn’t stopped. It means a lot. I’m very thankful for all the messages I’ve had.”

Eaves returns to action at Newcastle on Tuesday, and after the winter all-weather campaign, he can look forward to renewing his association with Glass Slippers as she stays in training for 2021.

He said: “I’ve had to self isolate and you’ve got to stay at home, so I’ve not really been doing a lot, just watching a few replays.

“All the lads who went over are all in the same boat. Those chances don’t come around very often. It was a dream come true.

“I’m going to keep going over the winter and hopefully ride as many winners as I can and get busy.”

He added: “Glass Slippers stays in training next year, so that’s great. No doubt Kevin and the owners will have a chat about what they’re going to do with her.

“She comes good at that time of year. She proved over there that she goes on any ground, she goes round a bend and she’s stays well. She’s very versatile.”

Glass Slippers records famous success in Turf Sprint

Glass Slippers gave Europe a first ever victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint when striking for North Yorkshire trainer Kevin Ryan at Keeneland.

Winner of the Prix de l’Abbaye in 2019 and just touched off from a poor draw in last month’s renewal, the four-year-old filly showed just how much she thrives in the latter part of the campaign with a dramatic success.

Glass Slippers – who landed the Flying Five at the Curragh on Irish Champions Weekend – was not the best out of the gates and Tom Eaves was happy to place her towards the rear of the field, but near the rail.

Up front, Bombard and Into Mystic shared the early pace with Wildman Jack, Texas Wedge and Leinster joining in as the runners approached the top of the stretch.

At that point, Eaves started to make his move on Glass Slippers, who was helped when a gap appeared as the early trail-blazers started to go back.

Glass Slippers responded in game fashion and galloped on strongly all the way to the line, scoring by half a length from Wet Your Whistle with Leinster third.

Ryan – having just his second Breeders’ Cup runner – said: “It’s been a funny year for us in the UK, and with this filly you have to plan her races out as she is a filly who improves as the year goes on.

“We knew she goes round a bend very well, as she had won at Chester, and Tom had a word with Ryan Moore who told him to take his time and opt for the shortest route. Being over five and a half furlongs that extra half a furlong was massive.

“She has always been a good traveller and thrives wherever she goes, although she had not been this far, but through the week as she was drinking and eating well we got happier with every passing day.

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“It’s great that she will be back for another season next year and if things go to plan I would love to come back to run in this race at Del Mar.”

Ryan’s only other Breeders’ Cup runner, East, was second to Newspaperofrecord in the Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2018.

“This is what we do the job for and I’m very lucky to have had some very good horse,” he went on.

“I wasn’t able to attend my first Breeders’ Cup, but it’s great to come out here and this filly is very special.”

Delighted owner Terry Holdcroft said: “I’ve been breeding horses for over 40 years and she is the best I’ve ever bred.

“It’s lovely that we kept her and didn’t sell her. Kevin has put an incredible amount of time and detail into training the filly.

“We had a programme at the start of the year and we didn’t budge from it. We won a qualifying Group One in Ireland and only just missed out on the Abbaye and one of the reasons to keep her in training is that things might change – we haven’t been able to go racing at home and it was such a great opportunity to be able to come here and watch her run.”

Eaves said: “Kevin knows this horse like the back of his hand and he told me he couldn’t have been happier with her. I didn’t chase the pace and waited and rode my luck. There was a lovely gap for us rounding the turn.

“This is a day I will never forget.”

Monomoy Girl justified her short price when winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff for a second time.

The five-year-old took the prize in 2018 but was restricted to only three starts in the interim, winning them all.

Brad Cox’s mare showed she was as good as ever when overcoming a wide berth to regain her crown and give her trainer a fourth Breeders’ Cup win of the weekend.

Her main rival Swiss Skydiver ruined her chance when she stumbled leaving the stalls, though the Preakness winner did her best to get into the race on the turn for home.

However, she could not maintain her challenge and weakened in the straight as Monomoy Girl and Florent Geroux lifted the prize from Valiance and Dunbar Road.

It was also redemption for Geroux as he had been unshipped from Starship Jubilee on leaving the stalls in the Filly Mare & Turf.

Cox said: “She is a champion. I’m very proud of her and I thought she was better than she had ever been coming into this and she proved that was her trip.

“It was a very fast time on a fast racetrack. She’s just a tremendous filly. I thought we were in a good spot at the eighth pole and Florent did a fantastic job.

“I’m very fortunate to be part of her – I think we’ve seen greatness.”

Monomoy Girl is due to go to the sales, but asked if that decision might be reversed, co-owned Sol Kumin said: “We will go out and enjoy tonight, get on the phone and put up a game plan and figure it all out, but ultimately it will be concentrating on what is best for her.”

Fellow co-owner Stewart Grant said: “Considering that she had some training issues, most people would have packed it in and sold her, but we love to race and with a very special team headed by Brad we were able to put her together again.

“Her career speaks for itself, with all the Grade One wins, two Breeders’ Cups and an Eclipse award.”

As for Swiss Skydiver, trainer Kenny McPeek said: “She stumbled at the start and Robby (Albarado) said after she left a little awkward that he kind of got stuck down inside and she was struggling down in there.

“But Monomoy Girl is a great filly, she’s deserves all the fame status.

“We’ll regroup and get a programme together for next year and come back at them again.”

He added: “There’s a very good chance (be back as a four-year-old). I’m a little worried about her finish, that’s uncharacteristic of her but we’ll go over her thoroughly and see what we’ve got.

“I think physically she’s probably fine but it wasn’t her day.”

Slippers bids for historic Abbaye double

Jockey Tom Eaves believes Glass Slippers has what it takes to become the fifth dual winner of the Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp.

Lochsong was the last to complete back-to-back victories in 1993 and 1994, and Glass Slippers’ prospects of repeating her success 12 months ago have been boosted by the withdrawal of Battaash due to the testing conditions on Sunday.

Plenty of cut in the ground holds no fears for the Kevin Ryan-trained filly, who appears to thrive at this time of year.

After being beaten by Battaash on her first two starts this term, the four-year-old showed she was coming to form at the right time with victory in the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh last month.

“It was soft ground last year, and she won it well,” said Eaves.

“She has come out of Ireland well, and we are looking forward to Sunday.

“She’s in good form, and came to herself at this time last year.”

Glass Slippers has been drawn wide in stall 10 of the 11 runners, which some pundits see as a negative – but that does not worry Eaves.

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“I’ll ride her as I find her, as normal – she’s quite versatile like that,” he added.

“She’s got form on the track. She’s won there twice and she’s got form on slow ground – (so) it’s fingers crossed.”

Keep Busy and Liberty Beach were second and seventh respectively behind Glass Slippers at the Curragh.

They are both trained by John Quinn, who is expecting a bold show from them.

“They are two good fillies,” said the North Yorkshire handler.

“Liberty Beach has had a good year. She has run well every time – maybe she was a bit disappointing at Goodwood, but they aren’t machines. She ran well at the Curragh, but didn’t get much luck.

“She has form on soft ground. She ran well in the Queen Mary on soft ground last year, and she’s fit and well.

“Keep Busy is in very good form. She ran very well at the Curragh and she relishes soft ground.

“I think they will run well – and that one of them will win! We are hoping for a bit of luck.”

With the mud flying, hopes are also high the Denis Hogan-trained Make A Challenge will make his presence felt.

The five-year-old has been in tremendous form this season and will again be ridden by Joe Doyle, who said: “By the sound of things, it is going to be plenty testing. Our lad would love it to be up to his knees – he’s absolutely exceptional on very soft ground.

“I don’t think I would swap my lad for anything else in the race if it turns up to be very testing.

“I think he has come on from the last day (fifth to Glass Slippers) – perhaps he was getting it a little easy at Listed level, and I think the last day just sharpened him up. He’s going to have to be sharp – take nothing for granted, it is a massive task in front of him.

“The horse is in savage order – and if things go right for us, he could run an absolutely massive race.”

Meanwhile, James Fanshawe believes it is worth taking a punt with Archer’s Dream – because she too will relish the underfoot conditions.

“The Abbaye closed early, so we had her entered,” said the Newmarket trainer.

“She could have run in the Rous Stakes at Ascot (subsequently abandoned for waterlogging on Saturday) – but with all the rain in France, we decided to give it a go.

“She’s got a bit to find, but is very well. She travelled very well to the furlong pole in the Haydock Sprint Cup and will love the ground.”

Glass Slippers adds to top-level haul in Flying Five

Glass Slippers stayed on in determined fashion to add the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh to her Prix de l’Abbaye success of last season.

Kevin Ryan’s filly had chased home Battaash at Goodwood last time out, having finished fifth behind the same horse at Royal Ascot.

She was actually one of the first off the bridle as Nunthorpe runner-up Que Amoro and Keep Busy went at it hammer and tongs from an early stage.

With two furlongs to run Que Amoro was back-pedalling, but the John Quinn-trained Keep Busy was still at the head of affairs with Maid In India and another Quinn runner, Liberty Beach, also in there fighting.

But Tom Eaves was beginning to get a tune out of Glass Slippers (9-2) against the far rail as they approached the final furlong and she hit the front with 100 yards to run. Keep Busy, running in Doreen Tabor’s silks for the first time, was a game second, with Sonaiyla staying on for third.

A’Ali and Make A Challenge, two of the favourites, never threatened to get in a serious blow.

Speaking from his North Yorkshire base, Ryan said: “She’s so tough and genuine, but she has a lot of class.

“She loves it when they go really quick, but the ground was tacky today so she’s done well to cope with that. I’m absolutely delighted.

“Darren Bunyan has done a marvellous job with her the last 48 hours, it’s not easy handing it over to someone else, but he’s produced her in tip-top shape so I’m very thankful to the Curragh and Darren.

“It was Terry Holdcroft’s (owner of Bearstone Stud) decision to miss the Nunthorpe and give her a bit more time and he’s obviously been vindicated.

“She’s an amazing filly, so simple to train and makes my job very easy. She’ll go back for the Abbaye now.”

Eaves said: “She’s been a great filly for everyone involved and has been extremely good to me.

“It’s a great training performance by Kevin and she seems to come right at the back end of the year. It’s a great result for everyone.

“Kevin didn’t rush her and we were pleased after the run at Goodwood that she was heading the right way again.”