Against elite racing operations powered by some of the world’s finest racehorses the China Horse Club excited the weekend’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland (Kentucky USA) with its reputation enhanced as both a leading racing operation and a breeder of premier performers. From a stable of three runners, including a home bred, and a fourth representative through its breeding programme, the Club closed the meet with a new course record holder, two G1 runner-up’s and an exciting G1 third placegetter.
The performance of new Keeneland course record holder Nashville on the Breeders’ Cup undercard reaffirmed the superlatives that continue to be written about him. While the handsome colt isn’t as yet a heavyweight of Improbable’s standing, the effortless of his course record breaking win felt like a precursor of next year’s showpiece. His searing speed was a prelude to the fight of Improbable (2nd USD6,000,000 G1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic) and Valiance (2nd USD2,000,000 G1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff) and to the pluck of Girl Daddy (3rd USD2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies).
“Nashville is an extremely exciting horse for China Horse Club,” said the China Horse Club’s Chief Operating Officer Michael Wallace.
“A dominant win on Breeders’ Cup day in very quick time showed that he has again raised the bar. We did contemplate G1 events at the Breeders’ Cup with him, especially the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, but after extensive discussion we elected to go to the Perryville Stakes.
“Nashville has now earned the right to compete at that level and if he pulls up well, we will aim at the G1 Malibu Stakes in late December.”
The emergence of Nashville in the United States couldn’t be timelier with the China Horse Club and partners retiring one of their true stars in Improbable. The striking chestnut closed his career with an immensely gritty second in the USD6,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Having travelled wide on a very tight course throughout the feature race, Improbable had the audacity to throw down a challenge to the unopposed race leader Authentic rounding for home. The two Bob Baffert trainees pulled clear of rivals with Authentic winning the day.
“To have a performer of Nashville’s potential in the wings when we are retiring our American talisman Improbable is very important. Improbable has given us many fantastic days and now retires to WinStar Farm at a fee of USD40,000 and interest in him is immense,” Wallace added.
“But you always need a star in your stable and Nashville is an exciting horse for 2021. But he might not be the only star next season. The performance of Valiance to run second to a champion in Monomoy Girl in the USD2,000,000 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff was a career best.”
Valiance has always shown promise under Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher but her progress throughout 2020 has exemplified his patient handling of her. Slow to mature, she has risen from contesting a black type race in her seasonal bow in May to joining the honour roll of the G1 Spinster Stakes in October and measuring up against the best dirt fillies and mares around in the Breeders’ Cup in November.
“What a great effort from Valiance here to run 2nd to the champion Monomoy Girl,” Wallace said.
“[Valiance] broke well and was forward but wide so [jockey Luis Saez] elected to go back and tuck in as best possible. She had a nice rhythm down the back, although still wider out, but able to breath well in the clear air.
“Valiance made a nice move into the race at the corner and for a second looked to have a real shot at winning. All honours to the winner but it was a wonderful performance and result.”
With its oldest graduates only four years of age, Valiance is the notable flagbearer for the China Horse Club’s North American breeding operation. However, the pretty grey has growing competition from a lightly raced filly who is carving her own reputation. Girl Daddy, who was making just her third career start, stepped up to the best of her generation when touched out in a photo for second in the USD2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The CHC graduate was ever so willing in the straight, despite being caught off the track for much of the race, and looks to have a very bright future in 2021.
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