THEY love the Royal Family in this neck of the woods, and tonight they’ll welcome the ‘King Of Southwell’ to Santa Anita.
Mick Appleby at the Breeders’ Cup — who’d have thought it?
The man himself is still getting his head around it and, for all he isn’t one for big displays of emotion, you can tell the experience means a lot to him.
For years he has been known as an all-weather specialist — a canny trainer from the Midlands who has always known how to plot one up over the winter.
Those who follow the game closely know he is much, much more than that, and in Big Evs he has a horse who has allowed him to show off his talents.
Appleby said: “What a phenomenal little horse he is, he has done everything this year and taken us to some amazing places.
“He is so fast and a very exciting horse to watch, with a bit of luck he can give us all another amazing day this weekend.”
If he were to win, much like Adam West’s Live In The Dream tomorrow, the word ‘amazing’ wouldn’t do it justice.
Both West and Appleby are not used to rubbing shoulders with the world’s big boys, so they have teamed up in order to give themselves the best possible chance at Santa Anita.
Appleby said: “I get on well with Adam and he made his own bell at home so his horse could get used to the bell start they have here when the gates open.
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“He gave it to me so we could get Big Evs used to it at home and it didn’t phase him at all.
“We just want to have all bases covered because it’s a big day.”
You can say that again.
And it’s a big day for the horse’s owner, Paul Teasdale, who turned down eye-watering, seven-figure bids for the two-year-old colt after his wins at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood.
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Big Crystal Palace fan Teasdale isn’t in it to make money, and this horse has extra special meaning to him as he named him after his best pal, Paul Evans, who died this time last year.
He is loving every second of the Big Evs journey and no amount of wonga will turn his head.
That sort of loyalty is invaluable to someone like Appleby.
Teasdale could easily have cashed in and the horse would then have moved elsewhere, but they are in it together.
Nice-guy Appleby said: “It’s been well publicised the owner had some very substantial offers for the horse. I’m talking big money.
“It’s great for us that they rejected them, they aren’t interested. Paul loves the horse and he is his pride and joy. He is not for sale, under any circumstances.”
Tactics come race time in tonight’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (9.00) will be pretty straightforward.
Tom Marquand, surprisingly having his first ever Breeders’ Cup ride, will try to ping the lids from stall four and get across to the rail before making every yard of the running.
Sounds easy, eh, though the top jock knows it will be anything but in practice. Marquand said: “It’s my first time at Santa Anita and it’s an unbelievably cool place to be. It’s not Newcastle for sure.
“It’s extra special to be here with a horse like Big Evs. He looks and feels in great shape and we know how much speed he has. I sat on him for the first time on Wednesday morning and he felt absolutely great. He has clearly been enjoying the weather out here.
“He will have to be very good to win as we all know how quick the American sprinters can be but he is very good. I was blown away with him at Doncaster in the Flying Childers. If he breaks well and gets the lead he will be tough to peg back.”
Appleby, who was the last of the European contingent to arrive late on Wednesday, agrees.
He said: “He’s got good gatespeed, which you need.
“If he jumps out as quickly as he normally does, I can see him going and making all. That’s just the way he runs. If something is going quicker than him early on, then they’ll be going too quickly.
“I was happy with the draw in four and he should cope with going round the bend no problem, everything should be fine for him.
“Bar the blip in the Nunthorpe he has done nothing wrong all season and his sectionals when he won at Donny were off the charts.
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“We’ve done everything we can do.
“If he were to pull it off you won’t see me at Southwell for a few weeks, that’s for sure!”
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