The Breeders’ Cup dream is over for Gun Pit after visa delays for trainer Caspar Fownes’ staff became the final stumbling block in a plan that had already faced many hurdles.
Fownes had hoped Gun Pit would contest the US$1million Grade One Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in Los Angeles on November 4 and had even found what he thought was a suitable flight before administrative issues kept his six-year-old star grounded.
“We had organised for the horse to arrive on Saturday, weather permitting of course, and the work rider and mafoo ready to go, but they needed more time for the visas to clear. They couldn’t get there until Wednesday, so we would had nobody to look after the horse for four days – it’s been a nightmare,” Fownes said.
Gun Pit has compiled an unbeaten run of seven wins on the Sha Tin all-weather track and was runner-up in the Group One Al Maktoum Challenge Round Three earlier this year before an unplaced effort in the world’s richest race, the Dubai World Cup at Meydan.
The son of Dubawi trialled impressively on Tuesday and Fownes was excited about the prospect of testing his dirt specialist on US soil, with the trainer now leaning towards an extended campaign in Dubai starting early next year.
“The sad part of not being about not being able to take him to America is that the horse is absolutely flying and is really well,” Fownes said, with a run in the Group Three Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse now likely on November 6.
“It’s unfortunate, but I guess we look to Dubai again, at least we know he can pay his way over there. What else are you going to do?”
Gun Pit didn’t handle the kick-back at Meydan in the Dubai World Cup and also ran a dismal last at Chukyo, Japan on a similarly sandy surface in the Champions Cup.
With his horse seemingly rated above his best in turf events at home, Fownes hopes the horse can adapt to the tricky Meydan surface.
“If he has a few more races there, maybe we can ride him differently and he can learn to race there,” he said. “Maybe getting him going earlier in a race, building him up from the 1,400m, we will see.”