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    3. Horse Racing

    Ouija Board target still undecided

    12:01AM BST 21 Oct 2004

    Ouija Board and Wilko are the only British contenders at the 21st Breeders’ Cup, to be run for the first time at Lone Star Park, Texas, a week on Saturday. The pair are included in a European party of 12, spearheaded by the brilliant, French-trained Six Perfections, who will attempt a second successive win in the Mile.

    Godolphin will be bypassing the meeting, following the recent injury to Crimson Palace, but Ballydoyle have five runners, with Powerscourt, in the Turf, and Antonius Pius in the Mile, at the top of their list.

    Trainer Ed Dunlop reiterated that he and owner Lord Derby will delay a decision on the target for Ouija Board until after the filly has arrived in the United States next week . She completed her final piece of work, over seven furlongs at Newmarket, yesterday morning, with big-race partner Kieren Fallon in the saddle. She is scheduled to fly out on Monday.

    On official ratings, Ouija Board is 5lb clear of her nearest rival in the Filly & Mare Turf, over 11 furlongs, but connections are also looking seriously at the Turf, over 12 furlongs, in which she would meet the highly regarded Kitten’s Joy, winner of the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park earlier this month.

    “Both races will be tough,” admitted Dunlop. “But I am happy with her. She lost 12 kilos in the Arc but she has put that back on, and some more. Earlier in the year, she had her races well-spaced – there were seven weeks between her two Oaks wins – but I think she is getting more mature.

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    “Kieren was very happy with her in her latest piece of work and he said she wouldn’t need any more,” he added.

    Dunlop also revealed that the application of Lasix on his dual-Oaks winner was “under consideration.”

    The fields for the eight races at the Breeders’ Cup were published yesterday, and although Dunlop chose the Turf as his first preference for Ouija Board, officials have made it clear such a declaration, at this early stage, was not binding.

    Coral’s put Ouija Board in as 5-2 favourite for the Filly & Mare Turf, while they have her as 11-4 second favourite (behind 7-4 shot Kitten’s Joy) in the Turf. Ladbrokes left the filly out of their betting on the Filly & Mare Turf, having installed Light Jig as their 3-1 favourite, while they have Ouija Board 3-1 second favourite for the Turf.

    For most horsemen, punters and hacks, the trip to Lone Star Park is a journey into the unknown. The layout of the track, in particular the grass surface, the weather in late October, and other important factors, remain a mystery to most. But Corey S Johnsen, the track’s president, speaking on a conference call yesterday, did his best to allay fears.

    “The track at Lone Star Park has been open since 1997 and we are aiming to provide safe, consistent surfaces. We have shipped in 38,000 temporary seats – and a sell-out crowd would be 51,000,” Johnsen pointed out.

    “The turf is almost exactly the same as Santa Anita, but here we have spiral, sweeping turns. The turf is like the 18th fairway at the US Open. We’re ready to welcome the world. The temperature is expected to be in the low 70s. We’re looking for a beautiful `Fall’ day,” the track president added.

    The Jeremy Noseda-trained Wilko, for whom Frankie Dettori was booked yesterday, is a 20-1 chance for the Juvenile with William Hill, who make Roman Ruler their 15-8 favourite. The Aidan O’Brien-trained Scandinavia is 12-1.

    In other news, Haafhd, the winner of the 2,000 Guineas and the Champion Stakes, has been retired and is to stand at his owner, Sheikh Hamdan Al-Maktoum’s Shadwell Stud. A stud fee will be announced in due course.

    Haafhd, trained by Barry Hills, looked quite brilliant when he won the Guineas. His fluent, stylish action seemed to indicate a fast ground horse essentially, but still he was able to cope with awful, soft conditions (heavy in places) when winning the feature race on Champion’s Day last weekend.

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