Horse racing is popular around the world. Two of the most prominent countries when it comes to racing are the United States and the United Kingdom, but it is very rare that we see runners from either country travel across to the other to compete in the biggest races.
British-trained runners in the Triple Crown races have been extremely rare throughout history, but what could that be down to, and is it something that could change in the future?
No British Runners in Triple Crown Races
British runners in the US Triple Crown races have been few and far between throughout history. However, the US has tried to tempt runners from around the world to their showpiece opening Triple Crown race, as there are Kentucky Derby preps across the globe leading up to the race.
That includes the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster in October, and the Juddmonte Royal Lodge at Newmarket in September. There is also a prep race staged at Curragh in the form of the Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford in September.
In the last ten years, there has only been one leading European contender that has lined up in the Kentucky Derby. That came in 2018, as Aidan O’Brien looked to create history and become the first European-trained winner of the race at Churchill Downs. Hopes were very high ahead of Mendelssohn’s run in the race, as he landed both the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and G2 UAE Derby on the way to his start in the Churchill Downs.
He started the Kentucky Derby among the leading contenders, with Ryan Moore opting to miss the 2000 Guineas on the same day in favor of a run in the Kentucky Derby.
However, it ultimately ended in disappointment, as the British challenger finished 20th at Churchill Downs, a whopping 74 lengths behind eventual Triple Crown winner Justify. Justify is the 13th and most recent Triple Crown winner.
Since then, no European runners have attempted to break the Kentucky Derby hoodoo.
Do American Trained Horses Run in the UK?
It is rare that British-trained horses travel across to the United States, but the same can also be said for American-trained horses competing in the United Kingdom. The only exception to that rule is the American trainer Wesley Ward. As he has constantly mentioned throughout his career, Royal Ascot plays an important role in his scheduling. Ward has achieved a huge number of victories at the Royal meeting in June throughout his career, which includes four victories in the Queen Mary Stakes. Furthermore, he has also landed top prizes in the UK, including the King’s Stand Stakes, Sandringham Handicap, and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Last year, he continued his excellent record on British shores with a success in the Commonwealth Cup. His winning runner in the race last year was Campanelle, ridden by Frankie Dettori, who was awarded the victory following a stewards’ inquiry after coming together with Dragon Symbol, who was first past the post. Ward is likely to once again bring a considerable party to Royal Ascot this year, as he looks for yet another big success at the meeting.
British Success In The US
Aside from the big dirt races, there have been many examples of British winners on American soil over the past couple of years. It’s unlikely that British trainers will send their horses to compete on the dirt, as they are underprepared given that the surface is very rarely used in the United Kingdom. The closest to dirt that horses race on in the UK is the all-weather, but it’s very rare that the form carries over from that surface to the dirt. Although, connections of recently crowned Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike would beg to differ.
Instead, UK-trained horses will only travel over to the U.S for races where they believe that there is an excellent chance that they can claim victories. One of the most popular occasions on the calendar is the Breeders’ Cup, which is staged at different venues across the United States annually. British trainers enjoyed a great deal of success at the event last year. One of the first winners came in the Juvenile Turf, as Charlie Appleby-trained Modern Games won in controversial fashion from Tiz the Bomb.
That success would only continue on the second day of the Breeders’ Cup, as Appleby and Godolphin picked up more big victories. The first of those came in the Mile, as Space Blues won by half a length to take home its share of the $2 million purse. Appleby’s famous hat-trick was completed in the final race on the turf, as Yibir won the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Turf by half a length. It wasn’t the only big win that the three-year-old achieved in the United States last year either, as he also claimed success in the Jockey Club Derby.
Jumps Racing tn The US
It would be hard to argue against the fact that the most popular type of racing in the United Kingdom is run over the winter months, as the National Hunt season takes centre stage. Capacity crowds attend the biggest fixtures on the calendar, including the Grand National and the Cheltenham Festival. However, no other country really competes over the jumps. But, there are some big US meetings that are staged over jumps throughout the season, including the Grand National Hurdle Stakes, which is the American equivalent to the Grand National itself.
This race has been run since 1899 and is staged annually at Far Hills in New Jersey. The Grade 1 has regularly been targeted by Irish trainers in recent years, with two of the previous three editions being won by major trainers from this side of the season. Gordon Elliott won the 2017 race with Jury Duty, while Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville partnered with Brain Power in 2019. However, we could soon see a first-ever American runner at the Cheltenham Festival, as The Mean Queen for Keri Brion, who won the race last year, is widely reported to be thinking of a bid for one of Britain’s top prizes.