By Jon Lees
Brian Ellison is set to unleash his two best jumpers next weekend – but the Malton trainer will be missing from his usual haunts and in Kentucky instead to saddle his first Breeders’ Cup runner The Mackem Bullet.
With Definitly Red due to contest either the Charlie Hall Chase or the West Yorkshire Hurdle a week on Saturday, and Forest Bihan set to have a spin on the all-weather, Ellison might have been heading to Wetherby or Newcastle.
But the emergence of bargain buy The Mackem Bullet as a high flyer in the fillies’ two-year-old division means he will pack his bags for the US, where his Flat starlet is engaged to run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf on Friday November 2 at Churchill Downs.
“All my best horses run that day – but I might never have another chance of having a runner at the Breeders’ Cup again, so I’ve got to go,” said Ellison.
“It’s fantastic to have a filly good enough to go there.”
After being picked up for £9,000 at the Goffs UK Silver Yearling Sale at Doncaster in September last year, The Mackem Bullet got off the mark at the third attempt with a five-length win in a novice race at Carlisle.
Third on her next start in the Group Three Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot, she then suffered two narrow defeats to Fairyland – in the Group Two Lowther by a nose and the Group One Cheveley Park by a neck.
By then, she had been bought by leading Japanese owner-breeder Katsumi Yoshida.
“Basically after she ran at York, the new connections bought her,” said Ellison.
“She then went to the Cheveley Park with the view that if she ran well she would go for the Breeders’ – and when she ran a blinder, that was it.
“The previous owners bought her for £9,000. I was sent her to see how she got on – and she just improved all year.
“From early days, I thought she would be a nice filly. When you go to the sales, what you dream of is trying to buy one good enough.”
The Mackem Bullet will be ridden by Oisin Murphy at Churchill Downs.
Ellison added: “When she ran at Ascot three months ago, Oisin said she might get a mile- and when he rode her in the Cheveley Park, he said she would definitely get a mile.
“Over there, they race round a bend – which should help.
“I’ve had runners in Australia and Dubai but never had a runner in the United States. She stays out there after she runs.”
At 16-1 with Coral, The Mackem Bullet is the outsider of the five other European challengers in a field headed by the Chad Brown-trained Newspaperofrecord, at 11-4, and Aidan O’Brien’s Rockfel Stakes winner Just Wonderful, at 100-30.
Ellison added: “She did her last bit of work this morning and is in great form.
“I hope she travels well and is all right out there. If the race was over here, I would really fancy her, but there are other factors to take into account.”
In Britain, Definitly Red – winner of the Cotswold Chase in January and then sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup – resumes at the track where he captured the Rowland Meyrick Chase last year, while two-mile chaser Forest Bihan will resume at a different discipline.
“I’d normally be at Wetherby this day – Definitly Red goes there,” said Ellison.
“He is in the Charlie Hall and the three-mile hurdle. He went to have a gallop at Redcar the other day, and he went really well. He is in good form.
“Forest Bihan is going to have his first run on the Flat at Newcastle the same day, to see how good he is.”