Breeders Cup Mile Preview: Hannon to strike Olympic gold

richard hannon
Richard Hannon: Seeks Breeders Cup Glory

Like the earlier Breeders Cup Turf, the Breeders’ Cup Mile (11.40pm, Santa Anita Park, Saturday) was one of the original seven races run during the inaugural Breeders’ Cup at Hollywood Park in 1984. The race brings together the best milers from Europe and North America, who compete for a purse of $2 million around two bends on the turf course.

This year, Europe is represented by Olympic Glory, trained by Richard Hannon, and Cristoforo Colombo, trained by Aidan O’Brien.

Olympic Glory (5/1) proved a revelation in first-time blinkers in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot two weeks ago, running on well to win by 3¾ lengths. In so doing, he reversed his previous form with Prix du Moulin de Longchamp winner Maxios by 31 lengths and, while Maxios certainly ran below par at Ascot, Olympic Glory is clearly a force to be reckoned with over a mile.

His second in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in August, where he split subsequent Prix de la Foret winner Moonlight Cloud and subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe third Intello, also makes good reading. The main question mark against him is his ability to recover from his Ascot exertions and his transatlantic journey sufficiently to do himself justice.

It would be fair to say that Cristoforo Colombo (14/1) is one of Aidan O’Brien’s lesser lights. The son of 2,000 Guineas winner Henrythenavigator finished just a neck behind Olympic Glory when they filled the places behind Dawn Approach in last year’s Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, but has won just a maiden at Navan and a minor conditions race at Dundalk, both over six furlongs, and is hard to fancy.

He has been tried over a mile just once, when fifth, beaten 8¼ lengths, behind Dawn Approach in the 2,000 Guineas so, while it might be dangerous to write him off completely, it would be a surprise if he proved good enough.

The home contingent is headed by last year’s winner, Wise Dan (evens), who’s won all five starts on turf this season, but was surprisingly turned over, at odds-on at Keeneland earlier this month. In his defence, the race was switched from turf to a synthetic surface, contested over a mile and half a furlong rather than a mile and Wise Dan was posted wide from the start. He is again drawn wide, in a slightly larger field than last year but, having won nine Graded races in a row prior to his Keeneland defeat, he looks a worthy favourite.

Silver Max (13/2) was the horse who beat Wise Dan by 1¼ lengths in the that Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes at Keeneland and reopposes on the same terms. However, the son of Badge Of Silver has never won a Grade 1 race on turf and was beaten seven lengths, in receipt of 4lb, by Wise Dan at Churchill Downs in May and 11 lengths by the same rival, in receipt of 3lb, in last season’s Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes. It’ll be a surprise if he can beat the reigning US Horse of the Year this time around, especially as he’s likely to be taken on for the early lead by Obviously.

No Jet Lag (14/1) has won both starts in the US since being transferred to Simon Callaghan from Upper Lambourn trainer David Lanigan in August. He beat He Be Fire N Ice (33/1) by half a length in the City of Hope Mile Stakes, over course and distance, earlier this month, with Obviously (14/1) a further 1¾ lengths away in fourth and can reasonably be expected to confirm the form.

Za Approval (33/1) was beaten 3¼ lengths by Obviously in the Shoemaker Mile Stakes at Hollywood Park three starts ago and although beaten a similar distance by Wise Dan in the Woodbine Mile on his penultimate start was hugely flattered by his proximity to the winner.

On paper, the Breeders’ Cup Mile appears to be a match between Olympic Glory and Wise Dan. At the odds on offer, our preview’s betting tips advice is to back OLYMPIC GLORY to win at a current best price of 9/2 with BetVictor or Betfred.