Alex Hammond: My Cup banker
Sky Sports News HQ's racing guru Alex Hammond isn't giving up on Cue Card and offers up some of her Breeders' Cup fancies.
Ulysses: Worth a wager in the Breeders' Cup Turf?
The injuries sustained by Freddy Tylicki, Jim Crowley and Ted Durcan at Kempton on Monday were a reminder of just how dangerous life as a jockey can be. Are these kind of accidents in any way avoidable and do the racing authorities do enough to support the welfare of all of those taking part?
Racing is a dangerous game and everyone that takes part is aware of the risks, it's just that they aren't at the forefront of your mind. If a jockey starts to think along those lines then I think anyone would tell you, it's time to call it a day. It's a well-used phrase, but for a very good reason, that it's the only sport where an ambulance follows the participants round.
I think what was so shocking about the fall at Kempton is that it was a Flat fall and Flat falls don't happen as often as they do jumping, which makes it unexpected. Also, on the Flat, the falls happen at a much greater speed; it's like being in a car crash without the protective cage.
Safety measures are improving all the time, you only have to look at how helmets and body protectors have evolved over the years to see that nobody rests on their laurels when it comes to protective equipment and safety. However, by the very nature of the sport, you can never make raceriding a safe occupation or hobby.
Steve Drowne who was one of the jockeys involved in the incident, was interviewed on At The Races the day after and spoke well, as he usual does. He said that jockeys are always aware of the danger, but he feels there's an element of fate involved. He said 'One day you will be the one that gets up and walks away and another day you may not be so lucky'.
It goes without saying that we wish Freddy the very best for his recouperation and hope for a full and fast recovery. It's also worth at this time regognising the amazing work that the Injured Jockeys Fund do. The rehabilitation centres in Lambourn (Oaksey House) and Malton (Jack Berry House) are invaluable and have been a real boost for those that need to utilise them. I, for one, always buy the IJF Christmas Cards, calendars and diaries every year for such a great cause. Their website is at www.injuredjockeys.co.uk
How surprised were you by Cue Card's defeat in the Charlie Hall Chase? Can he bounce back in the Betfair Chase or would you have concerns about backing him again now?
I don't think you can be surprised if a horse is beaten first time out and connections did concede that their instructions to Paddy Brennan will be different next time out. He just appeared to do a bit too much too early and he got tired. By no means did it look as if he had lost his ability or enthusiasm.
This was always the first step on a long road and the Charlie Hall wasn't his Gold Cup (as the saying goes). It certainly wouldn't put me off backing him again, the opposition he meets in the future may put me off, but not the fact he was beaten on his first run of the season. Granted, on form he should have beaten the likes of Irish Cavalier and Menorah, but I expect we'll see a different horse next time.
Looking forward to the Breeders' Cup this weekend, do you see Limato as being a big runner in the Breeders' Cup Mile back up in trip?
Oh, I was delighted when I heard the news that Henry Candy had opted for the Mile over the Sprint. If ever a horse was made for the Mile it's Limato – the turning track and fast turf at Santa Anita will suit him well.
His win in the Prix de la Foret was hugely impressive and the further he went at Chantilly, the further he pulled away from the field, so the extra furlong looks right up his street.
Tepin is understandably well fancied after winning the race last year, but she could be vulnerable and looks worth taking on after her defeat against her own sex at Keeneland last time out.
But what about Limato's defeat in the Lockinge on his only try over a mile I hear you cry?! Well, Henry Candy's horses were out of sorts at that time. From his 32 runners in May, how many winners do you think he trained? The answer is none!
Things, thankfully have changed since then and Limato has gone from strength to strength. He has so much speed that holding his position on Saturday night won't be a problem and the fact that Tepin is in the line up is a bonus as it stops him being a ridiculously short price. I'm with Limato all the way. He's currently 5/2 with Sky Bet and I'm almost certain I'll be making him my banker.
Can the amazingly consistent mare Found take the Breeders' Cup Turf for the second year running under Ryan Moore?
I'd love to see Found winning the race for the second year and there's no reason why she shouldn't. I'm relieved that Aidan O'Brien and the 'lads' have deceided that the Classic is not for her. The dirt surface they they run on in the Classic can be mighty tough on horses and she is a valuable commodity for the Coolmore breeding operation; there is nothing to be gained by running her on the dirt and plenty to lose.
She is 2/1 favourite with Sky Bet to repeat her Turf victory of 12 months ago when she had Derby winner Golden Horn in second and providing her runs in the Arc and Champion Stakes haven't taken their toll she goes there with a favourite's chance.O'Brien feels that she didn't have a hard race at Ascot and one thing we know about this remarkable mare is that she's as tough as old boots.
The very firm turf would be a little bit of an unknown quantity, something her closest rival Flintshire won't worry about as he handles it well. Now with Chad Brown, he hasn't done much wrong since heading stateside and he will make her pull out all the stops.
I can't help thinking that we haven't seen the best of Ulysses yet. The fast ground will suit Sir Michael Stoute's colt and while he has plenty to find on what he has shown on the track, he is held in very high regard and his trainer has won this race four times in the past.
Whilst I won't back Found at the prices it would be great to see her win. If she does she will be remembered as a tough, top-class racing machine and we can only hope her offspring inherit some of that. At 9/1 with Sky Bet, Ulysses is one I'll have a small wager on for a little interest in a fascinating contest.
Is California Chrome beatable in the Breeders' Cup Classic or can you see a rival shaking up the favourite?
I don't think it's cut and dried for Califonia Chrome and at 10/11 with Sky Bet I'll be looking elsewhere despite his obvious claims. Arrogate at 5/2 is a more attractive betting proposition, but it's not just a value bet that I'm looking for (as someone once told me, there's no value in a 10/1 loser when you could have backed the 10/11 winner).
California Chrome has been outstanding again this year and there's no doubt he will be remembered as an American racing legend whatever happens on Saturday night. He has come back better than ever this year and it has been great to see him racing on as five-year-old. He's an absolute monster and has a good draw in stall position four.
Arrogate will have to overcome the widest draw in 10 if he's to add his name to the illustrious roll of honour (or should that be honor as we are in America?!). This three-year-old has only run five times in his life, but he's won four of those starts and his win in the Travers at Saratoga last time was mindblowing. He won in the fastest time in the race's 147-year history.
He's the young upstart trying to knock the old warhorse off his pedestal and whilst I don't want to see that happen, it's a possibility. Let's just hope we enjoy a race worthy of this great horse to sign off another memorable Breeders' Cup night.