01 October 2023

Westover has sights set on Breeders’ Cup after brave Arc bid

01 October 2023

Ralph Beckett is eyeing a run at the Breeders’ Cup following Westover’s brave second in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.

The son of Frankel, who was an Irish Derby winner at three, had to settle for sixth in his first crack at Europe’s richest middle distance prize.

But returning to the French capital on the back of a fine four-year-old campaign, the colt thrived in the unusually quick ground to find only the imperious Ace Impact too good in the closing stages.

Westover finished a length and three-quarters behind Jean-Claude Rouget’s impressive victor, but Beckett could not hide his pride in his charge who has now earnt a trip to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup Turf next month.

“What a run, I’m delighted, what a run,” said Beckett.

“Hukum came across and sort of helped the pace along it looked like to me. He seemed a bit lazy out of the gate and then has got his place.

“At the top of the straight I thought we were in business, but there was just one better.

“He’s gone and done it again, which is terrific for everyone. I’m so proud of him.”

He went on: “I always fancied the Breeders’ Cup Turf for him because he’s a horse who enjoys his time away, as we saw in Dubai.

“So I’ve always kind of fancied that for him. The Breeders’ Cup Turf is shaping up to be the best ever isn’t it, but that’s life and I think we will probably go.”

Westover was once again picking up a silver medal having also filled the runner-up spot behind Hukum in a thrilling renewal of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes earlier in the season.

However, Owen Burrows’ five-year-old could not repeat his Ascot heroics from a tricky position in stall 14, with the quick ground blunting his challenge.

“The ground was a lot quicker than ideal. We didn’t expect it to be so quick, it was on the fast side of good,” said jockey Jim Crowley.

“From stall 14 I had to use up a little bit (of energy) but I actually got a good position and was happy. I got a breather into him down the hill but he just couldn’t pick up on the quick ground.

“He owes us nothing, he has come back from injury and won a King George, he is a very special horse.”

Fabrice Chappet’s Onesto claimed third, while Japan’s wait for a first Arc winner goes on after Tomohito Ozeki’s Through Seven Seas kept on for fourth, but ultimately could not land a telling blow at the business end.

“There was no pace on and so our jockey held her up,” said Ozeki.

“It was a sprint in the straight but I am pleased at the way she finished. We don’t know whether she will run again. It depends how she is because the Arc is such a great challenge for a horse.”

A place further back in fifth was Aidan O’Brien’s Continuous, who having been supplemented into the contest at a cost of 120,000 euros, was unable to add this middle-distance showpiece to the St Leger success he claimed at Doncaster.

The Ballydoyle team are now eyeing some overseas adventures with the son of Heart’s Cry later in the year.

O’Brien said: “We’re very happy. We made the decision to take our time and let him relax.

“They sprinted the last two furlongs, but he wasn’t finished and ran all the way to the line.

“He looks like he wants a strongly run mile-and-a-half so obviously we can look at Japan, Hong King, America and Dubai.

“He’s a very legitimate horse and a ready-made four-year-old. He loves travelling, and the best is yet to come.”

If he comes out of it well he could go for another shot at the Champion Stakes

Meanwhile Bay Bridge could be set for a defence of his Champion Stakes crown having faded into sixth after racing keenly in the early stages.

He was just a little free and needs more moisture in the ground” said trainer Sir Michael Stoute.

“If he comes out of it well he could go for another shot at the Champion Stakes.”

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