Slim hopes for Callaghan as Breeders' countdown raises stakes
14:03 GMT, 30 October 2012
They say America is the land of opportunity and Simon Callaghan has taken that ethos to heart.
In the 29-year-old's third year since switching his operation from Newmarket to the west coast, Callaghan will be represented at the Breeders' Cup for the second year running when Slim Shadey runs in Saturday's Turf over a mile and a half.
The four-year-old, who finished fourth to Frankel in the 2011 2,000 Guineas when starting as a 200-1 shot for his then trainer Stan Moore, may have a lot on his plate to cope with Aidan O’Brien's defending champion St Nicholas Abbey, French Yorkshire Oaks and Prix Vermeille winner Shareta plus top US hope Point of Entry but the improvement wrought in him by Callaghan has been eye catching.
Shadey character: The four-year-old will race at the Breeders' Cup on Saturday
Before crossing Atlantic, Slim Shadey, who will be ridden by Garrett Gomez, had won only one of his 13 starts, a novice stakes as a two-year-old.
With Callaghan, he has won twice and finished second three times in seven starts.
Those victories both came at Santa Anita – the Grade Two San Marcos Stakes and John Henry Turf Championship Stakes.
Callaghan said: 'It is certainly better opposition than he has faced. I guess St Nicholas Abbey and the filly Shareta are coming off a slightly below par efforts in the Arc but if they bounce back they will be really tough to beat and Point of Entry from the East coast is an improving horse having won his last five.
'So it is going to be his toughest competition but has been improving and training really well so we are hopeful of a good run.
Final countdown: The showpiece event continues this weekend
'He has definitely transformed since he
has come here and unleashed the potential that he had. He loves the
track which is his home territory so that is in his favour and if he
runs in the first three it will be a good result.'
Callaghan, whose father Neville
trained in Newmarket for 25 years, was doing well numerically in his two
UK season’s after he took over his family’s old stable with 33 and 34
winner in 2008 and 2009.
But from his California base, he has
managed three grade one wins, two with Dubawi Height, who he trained in
Britain, and, most recently, one with Belle Royale in the Gamely Stakes
at Hollywood Park in March.
A win which reads even better when you factor in that the filly once won a seller when trained in Britain by Mark Brisbourne and never won outside handicap company before being exported.
He added: 'It vindicates the decision coming here from England and the good thing is that we have quite a few horses competing at the top end whereas back home it is very hard to get those horses.
Grandstand finish: The event is being held at Santa Anita Park in California
'I've been here three years now and certainly have no intention of coming back (to Britain). I'm pleased the way it is going. We are growing and getting some good clients. I feel settled and happy.'
Those clients already include Slim Shadey’s owner Phil Cunningham, whose Cockney Rebel landed the 2007 2,000 Guineas, the Coolmore Stud team, and new clients Qatar Racing and Sheik Fahad Al Thani.
He is responsible for Callaghan’s latest recruit, three-time group two winner Strong Suit, who knocked on the door in group one when trained by Richard Hannon.
Callaghan, who will also take over Tom Dascombe's Qatar Racing-owned Cheveley Park Stakes fourth Upward Spiral after it runs on the Santa Anita undercard on Saturday.
Callaghan said: 'Strong Suit arrives in a couple of days – we’ll be competing with him in group one races. You’d think he has the perfect form to do well here and being by (sire) Rahy, loving fast ground and the way he travels in his races. He looks taylor-made for the racing out here.'