Tepin was last seen winning the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Nicholas Godfrey 11:00AM 17 SEP 2016
Preview: Canada, Saturday 11.39pm BST (live on ATR)
Woodbine (Toronto): Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Grade 1) 1m, turf, 3yo+
THREE European-trained horses are in town in Toronto on Saturday as mighty mare Tepin (Mark Casse/Julien Leparoux) has her first start since her memorable Royal Ascot victory in the $ 1 million Woodbine Mile.
British-trained pair Mutakayyef and Arod are joined by Mr Owen from France – but all eyes will be on Tepin as she bids to extend her winning sequence to eight.
But for a head, the formidable five-year-old’s unbeaten run would now stretch back two years and 12 races and she is sure to start odds on as she returns to North American action before defending her Breeders’ Cup Mile crown at Santa Anita on November 5.
On her last start, the mare dubbed ‘The Queen of the Turf’ overcame any number of hurdles – unfamiliar terrain, a transatlantic flight, lack of Lasix, and the small matter of 12 European rivals on a straight track – to win Ascot hearts with her half-length victory over Belardo in the Queen Anne Stakes.
The visit to Berkshire clearly left its mark on her connections according to assistant trainer Norm Casse, trainer Mark Casse’s son, said. “It’s going to be hard to replace the feeling we had when she won at Royal Ascot,” said Casse.
“Once she started getting closer to going over there and she got that international mandate, I realised how exciting it was going to be and how much of a star she was becoming overseas and how important horseracing was there.
“To go over there and win one of their most important races was special,” Casse added. “The only way we could ever top that feeling again would be to win the Kentucky Derby. It’s one of those fleeting moments. It’s like an out-of-body experience and I wish we could bottle up the feeling we had when she won at Royal Ascot.”
The bad news for Tepin’s Woodbine opponents is that she has settled in well at the Toronto track and looks primed to give her best.
“When we brought her back this year, one of our main goals was to come back and win what I think is Woodbine’s marquee race,” said Casse.
“When she brings her ‘A’ game, she’s always tough to beat. I think she’s ready – they say preparation provides confidence and her last works have been tremendous. We’ve actually cranked her up a little bit because she had so much time off and all indicators are she’s ready to run.”
Regular rider Julien Leparoux partners Tepin, having had thre winners last weekend at Kentucky Downs afrer retruning from a fractured wrist.
Back on Lasix here, Tepin is drawn on the outside of the eight-strong field, in which her chief rival is surely Mutakayyef (William Haggas/Dane O’Neill), who represents the upper reaches of European form. Much improved this term since being gelded, Sheikh Hamdan’s five-year-old met trouble in running last time out when a fine third behind Postponed in the Juddmonte International.
He had won his previous two starts at a mile. “We were thinking about the Irish Champion Stakes for Mutakayyef but we would have to supplement and that was a strong race to supplement one for,” said Haggas.
“Tepin is a champion and a very likely winner but he’s in good shape. I am hoping that this will be Tepin’s prep race for the Breeders’ Cup and she might not be absolutely top hole like she was at Ascot.
“She will take some beating even half-fit but Mutakayyef ran a very good race at York. I think he is a very good horse who is at his peak at the moment. He likes top of the ground and I hope it is going to be fast and we think he likes a turning mile.”
Mutakayyef, who won’t be running on Lasix, is joined by the by the Qatar Racing pair Arod (Peter Chapple-Hyam/Oisin Murphy), winless in four this year, and Mr Owen (Francois Rohaut/Jamie Spencer), who was sixth last year.
In his former life trained in France by Criquette Head-Maarek, Juddmonte’s US shipper Full Mast (Bill Mott/Joel Rosario) was the horse who benefited from the disqualification of Gleneages in the Prix Jean Luc Lagardere two years ago. Now four, he scored on US debut at Belmont in July before being beaten only a couple of lengths over this course and distance in a Grade 2 event in July; another narrow defeat at Saratoga followed.