Nine months on from moving into the Manton yard, Limerickman Meehan saw Frankie Dettori steer Red Rocks home in the $3m Breeders’ Cup Turf on Saturday night. His other Breeders’ Cup contender David Junior fared less well on the dirt, trailing home last in the Classic, but that horse had given him a perfect start to the season by landing the Group One Dubai Duty Free at Nad Al Sheba.
“It’s great the way things have turned out,” Meehan said. “We’ve been in Manton nine months and it’s fabulous to have ended up with two top horses, one at the start of the year, one at the end of the year. You couldn’t wish for better.”
Now Meehan is planning on stepping up to bigger and better things, with three-year-old Red Rocks very much at the centre of those plans.
He believes the Turf winner can come back even better next year and has targeted the Dubai Sheema Classic in March and a Breeders’ Cup title defence in 12 months’ time at New Jersey’s Monmouth Park.
“I think he could be exceptional,” Meehan said. “We made the running for Rail Link in the Grand Prix de Paris, when those were our tactics and you saw the race yesterday when our horse dropped in. When’s he’s dropped in I think he’s exceptional.”
Following David Junior’s disappointment in the Classic under Jamie Spencer, Meehan said the four-year-old will retire to stud as planned.
“He’s quite stiff and sore this morning. I think things just didn’t work out for him. I thought maybe it was the track, Jamie didn’t seem to think so, though, he just said he didn’t have the speed and the power that he usually has. If you look at the race he was in the right place all the time and Invasor came from there, but it’s a long way for these horses to come and it probably just wasn’t his day.
“We’ll get him home tomorrow night and get the vets in to look for anything.”
With George Washington also being retired to stud following his Classic swansong, plans for Aidan O’Brien’s three other Irish raiders have yet to be revealed. The quartet flew out of Louisville yesterday morning, bound for Shannon.
Aussie Rules and Ad Valorem were eighth and 13th respectively in the Mile while Mick Kinane was encouraged by Scorpion’s performance in the Turf in finishing fifth behind Red Rocks in just the four-year-old’s second start of the year.
“He got in a little tight on the inside and without that he might have run a little bit better,” Kinane said. “It was a pretty good performance for just his second start in a year. You could see there was a lot of improvement there.”
Some of Europe’s best chances had gone off in the Mile only for the Americans to stage a 1-2-3 shutout on the turf, Miesque’s Approval pulling out a shock win over Giant Causeway’s son Aragorn, which edged out Badge of Silver for second.
John Gosden’s Sleeping Indian was the top raider home, a close fourth with Rob Roy next and finishing like a train. Leading English hope Araafa threatened down the stretch but faded into to ninth. Librettist was the leading Godolphin runner home in 10th with Echo Of Light last.
O’Brien saddled both Ad Valorem and Aussie Rules from opposite ends of the gate with Ad Valorem’s jockey Jamie Spencer saying: “I got the lead and everything was going well but he suddenly died on me.” Of Aussie Rules, O’Brien said: “He had a tough draw and couldn’t get any cover. It was a funny race with a lot of hard luck stories.”
Luck had nothing to do with Rob Roy’s finish and when jockey Ramon Dominguez returned home he was met by a furious Michael Stoute. Stoute was furious with Dominguez for failing to carry out his instructions by sitting last at least a dozen lengths off the pace.
In the Juvenile Fillies, Stan Moore’s English filly Satulagi was never in contention and trailed home 11th of 14 runners with John Egan aboard.
“She didn’t get to jump too well with all that kick back and then she became unbalanced going round the paddock turn,” Egan said. “We can learn from the experience and she hasn’t disgraced herself.”