Seamus Heffernan aiming to break Breeders’ Cup duck
Aidan O’Brien’s number two jockey will ride Highland Reel at Santa Anita this weekend
Jockey Seamus Heffernan. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
The benefits of being number two jockey to Aidan O’Brien will rarely be better advertised than by the enviable collection of Breeders’ Cup “spares” Séamus Heffernan can look forward to riding at Santa Anita this weekend.
Ryan Moore has the pick of O’Brien’s dozen starters at the $28 million (€25.4 million) extravaganza beginning on Friday night but his leftovers are surely the envy of most number one jockeys anywhere in the world.
With Found diverted back from the Classic to defend her Turf crown on Saturday night, Heffernan has come in for the ride on her stable companion Highland Reel, perhaps the best chance the 44-year-old rider has from five rides to break his Breeders’ Cup duck.
It has been another notably successful year to date for Heffernan, who brought his career Group One tally to 25 when Brave Anna landed the Cheveley Park Stakes last month.
One of that top-flight tally was contributed by Highland Reel in last year’s Secretariat Stakes at Arlington and he has finished runner-up on the Ballydoyle colt on three occasions in 2016, including in the Arc behind Found.
Highland Reel is a 7/2 shot for the $4 million Turf but Heffernan’s rides in Friday night’s two-year-old races are 6/1 shots and both Hydrangea (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Lancaster Bomber (Juvenile Turf) will break from a potentially advantageous stall one.
In contrast, Moore will break from stall 13 of 16 on Roly Poly in the fillies event which has seen the Moyglare winner, Intricately, representing Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien, well supported into favourite on the back of stall seven draw.
Heffernan will be on the Ballydoyle second-string Pretty Perfect in Saturday’s Filly & Mare, where Moore rides Seventh Heaven, and also last year’s Juvenile winner, Hit It A Bomb, who lines alongside Alice Springs (Moore) and Cougar Mountain (Donnacha O’Brien) in the Mile.
Bondi Beach was a Ballydoyle flop in Tuesday morning’s Melbourne Cup but Heartbreak City is already a 16/1 shot to go one better next year than his agonising head defeat to Almandin in the ‘Race that stops a Nation.’
Tony Martin’s runner just missed out after a dramatic final-furlong duel with the Kerrin McEvoy-ridden winner after Brazilian jockey Joao Moreira had seemed to expertly manoeuvre the Irish hope into a winning position from a wide draw.
Martin immediately declared the Ebor winner would be again aimed at Flemington in 2017 and reported: “He ran absolutely brilliant. We just got to the lead a bit early and we were a sitting duck for the other horse. I would have preferred if we had the last shot at the other horse, rather than the other way around. He just outstayed us at the end.”
Wicklow Brave was drawn widest of all and raced wide and prominently until fading before the straight. But Bondi Beach never figured with a chance.
Martin’s focus will return to the domestic now and the Co Meath trainer has entries throughout the weekend from Down Royal to Cork, and at Naas on Sunday where his smart hurdler Anibale Fly is entered in a Beginners Chase.