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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 6 August, 2020

A Bluffer's Guide to... Breeders' Cup Weekend

Are you ready for two great nights of racing in Kentucky? We run through everything you need to know about the 2011 Breeders’ Cup.

Blame (far side) edges out Zenyatta in the thrilling finish to last year's Breeders' Cup Classic.
Blame (far side) edges out Zenyatta in the thrilling finish to last year's Breeders' Cup Classic.
Image: Morry Gash/AP/Press Association Images

What’s all this about then?

Well, the Breeders Cup is only one of the richest annual horse-racing festivals in the world.

This year’s two-day meeting takes place tonight and tomorrow at the famous Churchill Downs track in Louisville, Kentucky.

There are 15 flat races in total, some of which are run on grass tracks and some of which are run on dirt. It’s worth noting that American horses usually have more experience of dirt tracks than the foreign raiders and therefore perform a bit better.

Just how rich are we talking about here?

There’s over $25m at stake in prize money over the next two days — that’s how rich we’re talking about. The prize pool for the weekend’s main event, tomorrow evening’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, is a rather tasty $5m.

This is no ordinary horse-racing, people.

Oooh, interesting. When is it all happening?

The first race, the Juvenile Sprint, goes to post this evening at 8.10pm Irish time. There’ll be six races in total — spread at 40 minute intervals so you can flick over and back to Tubridy if you so desire — culminating in the Ladies’ Classic at 11.30pm.

Tomorrow evening is a veritable jamboree of racing, starting at the earlier time of 5.20pm and running all the way through to the big one: the Breeders’ Cup Classic at 11pm.

Let’s talk about the Irish contenders…

This really could be a year to a remember for Ireland. We have a major contender in the 1m2f Classic: Aidan O’Brien’s So You Think.

A classy winner of multiple Group One races in Britain and Ireland, the Coolmore colt will have an excellent chance of scoring Ireland’s first success in the race — if he can handle the dirt.

The bookmakers’ currently have him priced up at a rather stingy 9/2 second favourite, far short of the 7/1 which he was showing at earlier in the week.

But before you part with your hard-earned wages, bear in mind that the race is notoriously difficult to predict. Realistic arguments can be made for the top seven or eight horses in the betting.

Are there any other big Irish fancies?

Apart for So You Think, O’Brien has 10 other contenders over the two days, so he’ll be hoping to see at least one or two placings.

Perhaps his best chance will come in the Breeders’ Cup Turf tomorrow where he saddles two runners in what could turn out to be the closest contest of the weekend. Julien Leparoux takes the ride on Await the Dawn while O’Brien’s son Joseph is on St Nicholas Abbey.

Neither of the O’Brien horses will be without friends in the betting, but they are up against some quality contenders in hotly-fancied French filly Sarafina, Sir Michael Stoute’s Sea Moon and Henry Cecil’s Midday.

Along with the Classic, this is one of the races you simply cannot afford to miss.

Is it on the telly?

Coverage in the UK and Ireland is exclusive to AtTheRaces (Sky Channel 415) so unless you have a subscription to that, you’ll probably have to make do with a blurry internet stream beamed from somewhere in Outer Mongolia.

Still, it’ll be worth it.

Here are 7 of our favourite Leinster-Munster memories to get you in the mood for tonight

Have we met before? Sligo and Shels meet in a cup decider… again

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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