Saudi Arabia prince to assess Epsom Derby credentials of Crossed Baton

Prince Khalid Abdullah could have a Derby winner on his hands in Crossed Baton. (Getty)
Updated 16 May 2018
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Saudi Arabia prince to assess Epsom Derby credentials of Crossed Baton

  • Prince Khalid Adbullah's horse goes in the Dante Stakes on Thursday
  • No horse had ever lost the Dante Stakes and then prevailed at Epsom

Only one of Prince Khalid Adbullah’s three Derby winners at Epsom carried entirely obvious credentials going in to the famous race and connections of Crossed Baton are understandably looking to test what they have got in Thursday’s Dante Stakes at York.
Commander in Chief turned up to Epsom in 1993 unbeaten, whereas Quest For Fame three years earlier had been turned over in a three-runner Derby trial at Chester before his signature career triumph.
In 2010 Workforce had won only a maiden before he pitched up to York for the Dante, and his inexperience was there for all to see as he pulled the bit through his mouth and wandered around the track to lose what is considered the Derby trial nonpareil.
No horse had ever lost the Dante Stakes and then prevailed at Epsom, but Workforce developed rapidly on that steep learning curve and became the first horse in more than 50 years of Dante history to go on to score at Epsom. He did it in record time, too.
What the Saudi Prince has got on his hands with Crossed Baton, a horse whom he bred through his Juddmonte Farms operation, is hard to fathom after he showed the required ability, and more importantly the agility for a big horse, to win Epsom’s Derby trial three weeks ago. That, historically, has not been a strong race, but was upgraded to Listed status at the end of last season following the exploits of Cracksman, now rated the best horse in Europe, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed of Dubai’s tough but ill-fated Permian.
“Crossed Baton worked pleasingly on Friday morning,” Lord Grimthorpe, the owner’s racing manager said. “I felt it was a very solid performance at Epsom. It’s always difficult to make all there and he did that. The form is at least appreciable. With the Derby all things become engrossing and he has come through an Epsom trial, progressed pretty nicely physically and in his work he is going the right way. So he deserves a shot at the Dante.
“I think that will give us a pretty good idea. Then you have to look at what’s going (to Epsom) and assess your chances as realistically as possible. Obviously if there’s a chance he could be a serious Derby contender we want to give him that chance.”
That is hardly a ringing endorsement of his chances in the most important race in the world in two weeks, but this is trial season and dreams need to be turned in to reality. The son of top-class miler Dansili does not obviously have the breeding to indicate that he will be the strongest stayer over another two furlongs at Epsom on the first Saturday in June and today’s test could well see him win a battle along the way but ultimately lose the war.
The mount of Frankie Dettori faces eight rivals, with Roaring Lion, who beat Crossed Baton on their racecourse debuts at Newmarket in August, appearing the most likely winner.
Crossed Baton’s stablemate at Gosden’s Newmarket base is not an entirely straightforward ride for Oisin Muprhy, however, but was good enough to finish on the heels of Derby favorite Saxon Warrior in the 2000 Guineas 12 days ago and again in the Group One Racing Post Trophy at the end of last season.
He is not the only danger. The Dubai Royal family fire a twin-pronged attack at the race with Charlie Appleby’s unbeaten Nordic Lights set to represent Godolphin, and Mildenberger, who showed he was worth a dice roll in the more exulted company for owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince Of Dubai, when a solid winner of a Listed race at Newmarket last month.
Aidan O’Brien is never short of a potential Derby runner and send over James Cook, who was fourth to Crossed Baton at Epsom, and Zabriskie from Ireland, while Wells Farhh Go, a winner at the track last season, and White Mocha complete the field.


Chile open Copa America title defense with win over Japan

Updated 18 June 2019
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Chile open Copa America title defense with win over Japan

  • The victory moved Chile to the top of Group C along with Uruguay
  • Japan, playing as a Copa America guest for the second time

SAO PAULO: Chile’s experienced Copa America team proved too good for Japan’s young squad.

The two-time defending champions opened their Copa America campaign with a 4-0 win over the Asian guests on Monday, with Eduardo Vargas scoring a pair of goals to become Chile’s all-time leading scorer in the South American competition.

Erick Pulgar and Alexis Sanchez also scored for the titleholders, which are trying to become the first nation to win three straight Copa titles since Argentina in the late 1940s. Vargas scored twice in the second half to reach 12 goals with Chile in the tournament, two more than Enrique Hormazabal.

The victory moved Chile to the top of Group C along with Uruguay, which opened with a 4-0 win over Ecuador on Sunday.

“Chile has players who are very experienced, who know each other very well,” Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda said. “The challenge today was to avoid a bad debut. We were humble and entered with our feet on the ground. We were playing against a team that was very competitive in all sectors.”

Japan, playing as a Copa America guest for the second time, brought to Brazil a young squad focused on the Olympic tournament at home next year. The Japanese youngsters struggled against the veteran Chilean squad which was in control from the start at the Morumbi Stadium.

Chile won the last two editions of the Copa America, beating Argentina in penalty shootouts in the final both in 2015 and 2016. Argentina is the only team to have won three consecutive South American titles, from 1945-47.

Boosted by most of the 23,253 fans at the Morumbi, Chile created most of the significant chances.

After Pulgar headed in a corner-kick cross by Charles Aranguiz in the 41st minute, Vargas added to the lead with a shot from outside the area in the 54th after a pass by Mauricio Isla.

Sanchez found the net with a header in the 82nd, and Vargas closed the scoring about a minute later with a long lob shot over goalkeeper Keisuke Osako as he charged from his net.

It was a good opening match for Sanchez after a difficult season with Manchester United.

“I was coming off a difficult month-and-a-half,” said the 30-year-old Sanchez, who injured his ankle late in the season. “I struggled in the first 45 minutes, I felt tired, but I improved in the second half.”

Rueda, debuting with Chile in an official tournament, has been gradually revamping the squad since he took over in 2018. Among the veterans back from the team’s recent triumphs were Vargas, Sanchez and Arturo Vidal, who also had a good opener.

Japan last played in the Copa America in 1999, when it was eliminated in the group stage. Among the youngsters in Brazil was Takefusa Kubo, the 18-year-old who has joined Real Madrid’s “B” team for next season. He played from the start and was a threat for Japan in attack. He got an ovation from the crowd at the Morumbi after getting past a defender with a ball through his legs about 10 minutes into the match. He nearly scored after a nifty move past a defender inside the area in the 65th, but his shot hit the outside of the net. Japan had a few good chances to get on the board toward the end of the game but could not capitalize on them.