Big Evs, Mick Appleby’s first runner in the United States, never mind at the Breeders’ Cup, got the European challenge at the 2023 meeting off to the perfect start here on Friday night, taking the lead a furlong from home and then holding the strong late run of Valiant Force by half a length in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.
Tom Marquand was quickly away from the gates aboard Big Evs, though not quite as rapidly as Crimson Advocate, the Queen Mary winner at Royal Ascot in June, who led the field into the final turn.
Sunday’s racing tips by Greg Wood
Lingfield Park 12.25 Blue Collar Lad 1.00 Times Edition 1.35 Royal Athena 2.10 Golden Arrow 2.45 Mumayaz 3.20 Lion Ring 3.55 Intoxicata
Huntingdon 12.30 Allbetsoff 1.05 Burdett Road 1.40 Mofasa 2.15 Iliade Allen 2.50 Desque De L’Isle 3.25 Top Cloud (nap) 4.00 Star Legend (nb)
Carlisle 12.45 Whistle Stop Tour 1.20 Brandy McQueen 1.55 Frightened Rabbit 2.30 Mahler Mission 3.05 Carcaci Castle 3.40 Haute Estime 4.15 Panhandle Slim
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A burst of speed at the top of the stretch then took him into a decisive lead as Valiant Force and Starlust stayed on to complete a 1-2-3 for European-trained runners.
Appleby made his name as a prolific trainer of winners on the winter all-weather circuit and also by reviving the careers of older horses transferred from other yards, but can now reflect with pride on a near-perfect season for Big Evs, who also took the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot in mid-June. “A small yard like this, I’m grateful for the whole team,” Appleby said.
“They all deserve it because they worked all year. The race all went to plan, [he] jumped well, got a lead, and coming off the bend, he kicked again.”
For Marquand, there were few worries at any stage. “He had the speed today,” he said. “He did break half a length slower than a couple of them, but he hits up gear and he trucks along. It wasn’t the smoothest [around the bend] but he got the hang of it halfway around.”
Big Evs is named after a close friend of Paul Teasdale, one of the colt’s owners, who died last year.
“Paul Evans was a personal friend of 40 years,” Teasdale said. “We went racing together for 25 years. I bought the horse in March of this year, and didn’t necessarily buy him to call him Big Evs. We were going to enter a race and we needed a name and it just seemed a natural thing to call him.”
Later on the card, Donnacha O’Brien’s Porta Fortuna went down narrowly behind the 9-1 chance Hard To Justify in the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf, while Just FYI took the Juvenile Fillies on the dirt.
Fierceness, who made a scintillating debut earlier in the racing season but disappointed on sloppy ground in his Breeders’ Cup prep, returned to his best to run away with the Juvenile. Unquestionable landed the Juvenile Turf for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore, after River Tiber, the initial favourite for the race, was ruled out by a veterinary panel on Friday morning.