By Geoffrey Riddle, courtesy of Racing UK.
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One woman and her horse is a familiar function in literature, and for 25-year-old Amelia Green it has resulted in a dream return to England and the elite Royal Ascot meeting to oversee American challenger Gidu in the June 22 Commonwealth Cup.
Gidu is a gray or roan son of superstar racehorse-turned-international stallion Frankel and has been dispatched across the Atlantic by trainer Todd Pletcher, who will not be in attendance at Royal Ascot because of his son’s graduation.
Green was an apprentice rider at Warren Place during the Frankel years, when she had a handful of mounts and even managed to get a ride at Ascot, where she finished third aboard Feelthedifference in 2012.
When Frankel’s trainer Sir Henry Cecil died five years ago this month, Lady Cecil held the tiller at Warren Place with distinction before calling a halt.
Green, who is from Nottingham, moved to the U.S. for three months and once she realized the American dream was for her she came back, packed up, got the visa in the pre-Donald Trump era and has never looked back.
“Sir Henry was great to work for, pure class. He was lovely, and so down to earth,” she said. “I can’t believe it was five years ago that he died.
“I went to California to try to ride in races but then ended up working for Todd.
We have already had one winner associated with a Triple Crown champion this week when Without Parole won the St James's Palace Stakes for Justify's breeder John Gunther. Gidu is owned by the Zayat family, who also owned 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
Gidu has been housed alongside the Wesley Ward brigade at Paul Cole’s Whatcombe yard, where has been gearing up for Ascot’s uphill finish on the five-furlong turf gallop there.
He faces 21 rivals in Friday’s £500,000 Commonwealth Cup, after 4-1 favorite Equilateral, Sioux Nation and old rivals Invincible Army and Sands Of Mali were all declared on Wednesday.
Gidu, who will be ridden by John Velazquez, has never finished out of the first two spots, and last raced when successful in a stakes race at Belmont Park over seven furlongs on firm ground on May 28.
In March, he won a stakes race at Tampa Bay Downs over a mile, one race after a good runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He also won one of two starts in 2017 as a juvenile.
In all five of Gidu’s races he has been administered Lasix, the diuretic that carries performance-enhancing qualities, but will have to run clean like all the American raiders on Friday. Although he has winning form from five furlongs to a mile, he has never raced in public up a hill. He is 33-1 with Betway.
“He’s got some very good form, but we obviously don’t know how it stacks up,” Green added.
“We have no concerns about the lack of Lasix. He has worked without it before so that isn’t an entirely new concept for him. There is lots to overcome, but his running style dictates that it will be catch-me-if-you-can.
“He is dropping back in trip, but I think he has the speed. The ground looks like it is going to be quick, although not as quick as he has been running on in America.
“He has grown up a lot. He is the first Frankel I have ever sat on, although I have asked a few people here and they say he is nothing like one in terms of temperament.
“He has learnt to relax, and doesn’t sweat. He’s kind, not like a colt at all.”