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Series stars meet disappointment at Santa Anita and Melbourne

7 Nov 2012

A very tight track and lightning fast ground at the Breeders' Cup in Santa Anita and a slow early pace in the race that stops Australia conspired against the QIPCO British Champions Series horses that tried their luck overseas in the last few days.

Excelebration, pictured here with jockey Joseph O’Brien after tasting QIPCO British Champions Day glory, was unable to follow up his brilliant Queen Elizabeth II Stakes victory under very different conditions at the Breeders’ Cup. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

A few of the stars of the 2012 QIPCO British Champions Series had a crack at the Breeders’ Cup in California last weekend and the Emirates Melbourne Cup in Australia on Tuesday, but they failed to follow up their exploits in Europe for a variety of reasons.

The highest profile QIPCO British Champions Series horse to try his luck overseas was Excelebration, the brilliant winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes which saw his rating rise from 126 to 130 to make him the third highest Series performer of the year after Frankel and Cirrus des Aigles.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt contested the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita, but found a combination of the 13 day gap between races, the travel to the USA and very different underfoot conditions – the going was lightning fast, whereas all his best performances have come with ease in the ground – against him.

He could finish only fourth, two lengths behind the best USA miler for many years, Wise Dan.

Another QIPCO British Champions Series contender, the Diamond Jubilee Stakes runner-up, Moonlight Cloud, failed to make any impression for French trainer, Freddy Head, finishing a disappointing eighth.

In the Breeders’ Cup Turf, last year’s winner, St Nicholas Abbey, who won this year’s and last year’s Investec Coronation Cup and was third to Frankel in the Juddmonte International, was a never nearer third.

The tight track did not play to his strengths and it was a similar story for the Darley Yorkshire Oaks winner, Shareta, who was a never nearer fifth.

It was a similar story for John Gosden’s Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes winner, The Fugue, who met trouble in running and flew home at the end, but could only manage an unlucky third place in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

In the Breeders’ Cup Marathon, Fame And Glory ran the final race of his glorious career which included victories in last year’s Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup on last year’s inaugural QIPCO British Champions Day.

He could not go out on a high, however, being pulled up after losing touch with the field.

On Tuesday in Melbourne the spotlight was on last year’s first and second in the Emirates Melbourne Cup, Dunaden and Red Cadeaux, to see if they could fight out another memorable finish.

Dunaden had finished a very respectable sixth behind Danedream and Nathaniel in this year’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes sponsored by Betfair at Ascot, while Red Cadeaux had easily landed the Sportingbet Yorkshire Cup and finished second to St Nicholas Abbey in the Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom.

The slow early pace was against them both, however, with Red Cadeaux a never nearer eighth and Dunaden well back in 14th, running well below the form that he saw him land the Caulfield Cup in Australia two and half weeks earlier.

The race was won by an ex-British horse, Green Moon, formerly trained by Harry Dunlop.

The next big European challenge will come in Hong Kong in December, when the likes of Cirrus des Aigles, who gave Frankel one of the toughest races of his career in the QIPCO Champion Stakes, and Giofra, winner of the Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes, are just two of the stars expected to be in action.