Friday, September 4, 2015

Trail-blazing English trainer Clive Brittain announces retirement

There is an Indian connection to the Group I Betfred Sprint Cup to be run at Haydock Park on Saturday, September 5, 2015.  Gordon Lord Byron will carry the Poonawalla colors in this prestigious contest. The Poonawalla torchbearer won the Sprint Cup in 2013. He was the bridesmaid in 2012 and 2014.  Gordon Lord Byron has won 12 races in his career and three of those wins have come in Group I events.



Aaday, winner of three races in his last four starts and victorious in Newbury’s Group II Hungerford Stakes, is the favorite at 6/1. Co-owned by Dr Cyrus Poonawalla and Morgan Calahan, Gordon Lord Byron is the 8/1 third choice.  There are 17 runners in the 1200-metre race.


Wayne Lordan, the Irish ace, rides Gordon Lord Byron. Tom Hogan trains the productive seven year-old. Coming off a third place finish in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville, Gordon Lord Byron has been working well. Trainer Hogan expressed satisfaction. “Gordon Lord Byron worked extremely well last Tuesday and I’m very happy with him. He likes flat tracks like Haydock and Deauville.”


On Saturday, Saratoga in upstate New York, hosts two Grade I races. Freshman girls are in the spotlight in the 1400-metre Spinaway Stakes. Six go postward.


Eight run in the 1800-metre Woodward Stakes. Liam’s Tap, second to Honor Code in the Whitney Stakes, is in fine fettle and is the one to beat.


Del Mar’s feature on Saturday is the Grade I Debutante Stakes for two year-old fillies. Eleven answer the starter’s call in this contentious race.


Clive Brittain, 81, is calling it quits. A legend in the British training fraternity, Mr Brittain has been a trailblazer. In 1985 when the Breeders’ Cup was only run for the second time, he won the Fillies-Mares Breeders Cup Turf (2400) with Pebbles at Aqueduct. That was the first time a British trainer had won a Breeders’ Cup race. The incomparable Pat Eddery was the rider for Pebbles.


Perhaps the most notable Brittain accomplishment in the US was the runner-up effort from Bold Arrangement in the 1986 Kentucky Derby.


I  spoke To Mr Brittain in 2003 at Epsom Downs after his Warrshan (by Caerleon) had won the Coronation Cup. It was that first Friday in June in 2003 that Martin Dwyer won three races including the Oaks with Casual Look. Warrshan got an encore in the Coronation Cup in 2004.


Jupiter Island, a Brittain pupil, won the 1986 Japan Cup. It was another feather in Mr Brittain’s cap.


It was in 2005 in Tokyo that I got to chat  with  Mr Brittain for a few minutes. Warrshan was in the Japan Cup (grass) field. Alkaseed won that race in a photo finish from Heart’s Cry.

Clive Brittain made a statement. “I am retiring at the end of this season. I have had a good innings and enjoyed nearly all of it. It has been a fantastic life and lifestyle but it has come to the time where I want to retire.”


          Ahmed Zayat, American Pharoah’s owner, has confirmed that his Triple Crown champion will go in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. “We’ll run him in the Classic. My concern was about American Pharoah’s condition because he did not run his ‘A’ race in the Travers. He, however,   has come out of it in great shape. There was a combination of factors that prevented him from doing his absolute best. I think he can run  his best again and deserves the chance to do so.”


Beholder is a likely prospect. She is the indisputable ‘distaff queen’ at the moment.


Gleneagles, from Aidan O’Brien’s yard, skipped York’s Juddmonte International because of soft ground. The English 2000 Guineas hero is supposed to go in the Irish Champion Stakes on September 12 at Leopardstown subject to the course being satisfactory. Another target is the Q E II Stakes on October 17 at Ascot on Champions’ Day. Trainer O’Brien has said that Gleneagles  will be in the Breeders’ Cup Classic line up at Keeneland on October 31. It is a leap of faith. That will be the first time that Gleneagles will go on dirt. If Aidan O’Brien, the maestro that he is, cannot make his colt manage the transition, who else can?


I am fortunate. My wife and I will be in Lexington for the Breeders’ Cup extravaganza.    

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