Fabre rallies his troops for trans-Atlantic raid
From JIM McGRATH at Santa Anita, Los Angeles
ANDRE Fabre strode out like a four-star general marshalling his troops at Santa Anita yesterday, and on the eve of the Breeders' Cup, declared: ''You've got to have soldiers to make a war.'' Fabre, who spent a year sharing a room with Patrick Biancone in the French army, has soldiers in abundance for American's racing extravaganza. He will saddle eight of the 19-strong European challenge as the trans-Atlantic raiders yet again attempt the impossible.
Fabre is one of the world's most successful international handlers. Based at Chantilly, he consistently sends out winners in all parts of the globe, and when challenged yesterday on the lack of success by European visitors in recent years to the Breeders'Cup he was typically straight to the point with a cutting rebuttal.
''The English are the ones who did not do well last year at Gulfstream Park. They are the ones who have complained - but I am not. My horses won over US$600,000 and I was quite satisfied with that.
''What you have to remember is that there is no point in complaining about the tightness of the American tracks or other factors such as the firmness of the ground or the climate. Great horses have all raced here and won. If it was good enough for Northern Dancer, it should be good enough for every horse,'' Fabre emphasised.
On the eve of the Breeders' Cup at picturesque Santa Anita, the eight Fabre-trained challengers filed out in order on to the dirt course mid-morning and proceeded to carry out their training regime. They looked a formidable bunch headed by the two brilliant fillies, Intrepidity and Wemyss Bight, winners of the Epsom and the Irish Oaks, respectively.
Intrepidity, in particular, looked the part and will no doubt benefit from the engagement of Gary Stevens as her partner.
Pat Eddery will ride Weymss Bight as the two star Fabre fillies clash once again, this time in the Breeders' Cup turf.
Fabre's other runners in this race are Dernier Empereur, who finished a respectable third in the Dubai Champion Stakes at Newmarket, as well as Applie Tree, who is owned in similar interests, and Serrant.
Fabre would not be pressed into making a selection from his famous five but was quick to point out that Intrepidity is one of the best fillies that he's ever trained.
''She's one of my favourites and remains in training next season and even if she does not win the Turf she will still be one of my favourites.'' In my opinion, one of Fabre's best chances will be Ski Paradise in the Breeders' Cup mile, a race in which owners Sheik Mohammed will have three runners, Barathea, the Irish 2,000 Guineas winner, Catrail, and Wolfhound.
''Ski Paradise is only two to three pounds below the best milers in Europe and I'm hoping she does well,'' said Fabre. Ski Paradise has drawn stall number one and it is to be hoped that she is not knocked about in the run to the first turn.
''She is so small that I'm just praying she is not sandwiched between horses or given a rough run. If she is not, I think she will figure in the finish,'' said Fabre.
The French trainer's other Breeders' Cup runners are Monde Bleu in the Sprint and Arcangues in the Classic.
English hopes are thin on the ground. Last year the stifling heat and humidity in Florida at Gulfstream Park brought about the downfall of Rodrigo De Triano, Dr Devious and other well-fancied stars of the British turf. Again, it is hot, but this time the humidity is absent, which should be a big help. There is now every chance that the Europeans could thrive under such a change of temperature after the cold, shivering winter chills in England and France.
Sayyedati, winner of the English 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket last April, is still on the go, but the task that awaits her in the Breeders' Cup Sprint is a formidable one. Rather than running in the Mile, the obvious target, owner Mohammed Obaida has opted for the Sprint, on dirt, and trainer Clive Brittain, who will be in Hong Kong with Alflora for next month's International Cup, has been given the challenge of preparing the filly for this unsuitable event.
''It is not up to me,'' said Brittain, who is still bullish about Alflora's chances of taking the Cup back to England next summer.
''The owner wants to go for this race so I must try to produce the filly at her best and ready to win.
''We put her through the stalls at Santa Anita this morning and she went well. If she had come out any faster she would have been equipped with wings.'' Despite this typically enthusiastic statement from Brittain, the first British trainer to ever win a Breeders' Cup race, Sayyedati will have plenty to worry about with the cream of American sprinting talent up against her.
One fascinating entry at the meeting is Coup De Jenie, who was a short-priced favourite for next year's 1,000 Guineas before flopping in the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp in October. She is now a 6-1 chance but her price will shrink dramatically if shecan win Juvenile Fillies' today.