By Jon Lees
Andrew Black made his fortune as co-founder of the betting exchange Betfair but says if Arthur Kitt, the colt he bred and owns, lands Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf it would be the win of a lifetime.
Arthur Kitt has already overcome the most challenging circumstances, surviving a complicated birth in which he almost died but from which his mother Ceiling Kitty could not be saved.
The young colt had to be brought up by a coloured foster mare, but after he went into training with Tom Dascombe and landed the Royal Ascot’s Chesham Stakes on his second start, Black began to wonder if he was going to be “something special.”
Arthur Kitt has not won since but, according to Black, had “an off day” when only fifth in the Royal Lodge Stakes and is better judged on his Solario Stakes second in which he finished four lengths behind the season’s top two-year-old Too Darn Hot, the same distance Juvenile Turf favourite Anthony Van Dyck was beaten by the 2,000 Guineas favourite in the Dewhurst.
“It was quite a long back to some good horses in third, fourth and fifth in the Solario, so on the basis of that he is a decent horse,” said Black.
“I think Newmarket was an off day for him. He got a little bit mugged by the three Ballydoyle horses and, just going into the Dip, he lost his action and never got it back and just coasted over the line.
“After you have had a bad run you are not too sure where you stand. I want to be able to draw a line but until he does what he’s got to do in Kentucky we won’t know.”
Arthur Kitt emulated his mother Ceiling Kitty, winner of the Queen Mary Stakes in 2012, in scoring at Royal Ascot. She also went to a Breeders’ Cup, finishing last in the Juvenile Sprint run on dirt.
“The Breeders’ Cup was in our heads after Ascot,” said Black. “He is a horse that doesn’t take his racing and travelling as well as some. We were thinking it might be asking too much of him and he might arrive and not settle.
“As it happens he’s been really, really good. The reports coming back from Kentucky are that he is really enjoying himself on the track. He just appears very happy within himself and looking extremely well.
“I don’t think there are going to be any excuses here. We are expecting him to put in his best performance. It’s a concerning thing to do with the travel and time difference but all the signs are encouraging.”
Black and business partner Ed Wray created their platform for backing and laying at the beginning of the century helping establish the Betfair exchange as a world leader and the company as a betting brand leader.
These days he is more hands on with Chasemore Farm, the stud near Cobham, Surrey, where he breeds his racehorses.
“Betfair was a pleasure that panned out over years and years,” said Black. “If I die tomorrow that’s what they will write on my gravestone. It almost defines me. But it wasn’t purely a pleasure. Betfair was at times amazing, at other times highly stressful. I don’t know how you compare that to winning a horse race.
“With Arthur Kitt I did think I could breed a Chesham winner out of Ceiling Kitty, because of the nature of the race (restricted to horses whose stallions won over 10 furlongs or more). We then went ahead and did exactly that.
“Arthur is an elegant horse and I have always been excited by him. If he won in America it would be the most amazing win of my life.”