Brittain’s dance rehearsal ready for Rizeena’s victory lap ahead of Newmarket race
NEWMARKET, England // Clive Brittain is preparing a new dance.
The veteran trainer lit up the Royal Ascot winner’s enclosure in June with a twinkle-toes performance of pure joy after Rizeena won the Queen Mary Stakes and, with the hulking filly set to go off favourite for today’s English 1,000 Guineas, the 80-year-old Englishman has kept a few new moves up his sleeve.
“You haven’t seen my tree dance, yet, have you?” he said at his Newmarket base. “It is sort of like a pole dance, only with leaves.”
Brittain has made a long career out of being slightly eccentric, but his oddball thinking has resulted in a glittering CV that would require far more than the standard two pages, having saddled his first winner in 1972. The standout in his roll of honour is Pebbles, who, 30 years ago, won today’s race.
Pebbles was a filly of a lifetime, or of all times, and having taken the fillies’ Classic here on the Rowley Mile she embarked on a Group 1 smash-and-grab raid that brought success at the highest level in the Coral Eclipse Stakes, the Champion Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Rizeena may not have the brilliance of Pebbles at this stage of her career as she seeks to provide her trainer with a third 1,000 Guineas win – his second was the 1993 triumph of Mohamed Obaida’s Sayyedati – but Brittain makes no bones about how different they are.
“I have been fortunate to have some very good animals to train,” Brittain said. “When one comes along and your heart misses a beat when you watch it, you know you’ve got something special.
“Pebbles was an experience – as she was very difficult to train. Pebbles swam more miles than she galloped by a long way – this one is a lot more straightforward.
“She has a very good stride pattern and a very good turn of foot; basically everything you want from a racehorse.”
Rizeena impressed Brittain enough in eight races last season for him to initially enter her for yesterday’s colt’s Classic won by Night Of Thunder.
He has opted for the safer option, despite showing she could beat the colts at Sandown 12 months ago.
Owned by Sheikh Rashid Dalmook, Rizeena is at the vanguard of the Al Maktoum family’s tilt at the mile contest, ahead of Godolphin’s Ihtimal, the dual UAE Classic winner from Saeed bin Suroor’s yard, and Majeyda, trained by Charlie Appleby.
Princess Haya of Jordan is represented by Betimes, while the Dubai raiding party is completed by Saif Ali’s Lamar.
Ihtimal was a wide-margin winner of the UAE Oaks at Meydan Racecourse in February, but it was not a strong Classic field. Bin Suroor remains confident he has a filly, however, who can add to the 1,000 Guineas victories of Cape Verdi in 1998 and Kazzia in 2002.
“Ihtimal was impressive when winning the UAE 1,000 Guineas and UAE Oaks in Dubai,” he told Godolphin’s website.
“Her final piece of work earlier this week went well and she is ready to run.
“She is facing some of the best fillies in the country but this is the right race for her and I am looking forward to a good run.”
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Published: May 3, 2014 04:00 AM