Adam West had one box to tick when he touched down in Los Angeles. He knew upon arrival in America this was going to be a demanding week, so a plan was put in motion to find an escape.
Overseeing the final preparations for the wonderfully — and appropriately — named Live In The Dream has been intense for West, a trainer whose small yard is based in Epsom; he is a man more comfortable walking around The Downs with his ferrets than talking into a camera.
He knows why the interest is huge — how could it not be when he trains the favourite for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint — but he also knew why there was going to be a day when he needed to escape Santa Anita. So off he went to find his namesake on Hollywood Boulevard.
‘Had to, didn’t I?’ West said chuckling. ‘It was such good fun. And, yes, there was an obligatory picture.’
Batman always came out with the right result and the 34-year-old raised an eyebrow when it was suggested something similar may happen tonight. That we talked in front of a plaque paying homage to Seabiscuit, America’s favourite horse whose home was Santa Anita, retained the movie theme.
Adam West found his namesake on the Hollywood Boulevard ahead of the Breeders’ Cup
He trains the favourite for the title, Live The Dream (pictured) and has endured a busy weekend
‘The week has been really good, just one big blur,’ said West. ‘When we took him out to work this morning, you could feel the buzz and the energy. It’s getting closer and closer and everyone is just so excited. How have I found it all? This just isn’t me, the attention.
‘I’m having to adjust my social abilities more than my training abilities! I’m trying to remember this is what it is all about, that one big opportunity and the chance to perform in front of the world. These are the chances you have to grasp with both hands.’
West would acknowledge his facilities are modest but there is no question that he has a gift for getting the best out of horses and Live In The Dream — who shot to prominence when he barrelled down York’s flying five furlongs to win the Nunthorpe Stakes at 28-1 in August — is wonderful proof.
This campaign has been planned meticulously. Aware that American stalls are different to those in Europe, as the start is signalled with a loud, clattering bell, West assembled his own siren to prepare Live In The Dream for what is to come.
He also passed up the chance to run at Longchamp on Arc day, in the Prix de l’Abbaye, as West wanted to travel Live In The Dream, a four-year-old gelding, to America for a race in Keeneland last month, where he ran with great credit. Everything is in place for a bold show.
‘I’m really proud of the way we have come here,’ said West. ‘I really like to think I can get inside a horse’s head and give them confidence. That is what we have done. It’s such a rollercoaster of emotions. While this is an escalation of everything, we’ve got 40 more at home.’
And that is a key point to make. There has been such fantastic colour in all of this — not least in the garish Louboutin loafers enthusiastic owner Steve de’Lemos will wear for good luck — but this is also a story of ambition, of a young trainer and young jockey fighting to be noticed. Sean Kirrane, still an apprentice, will be entrusted with doing the steering this evening. He has taken everything in his stride this week, a convivially figure who will chat away over a bowl of oatmeal and summer berries, but his game face has been on for the last 24 hours.
West said the week ‘has been one big blur’ and isn’t fond of the attention he’s been receiving
‘If you had told me I would be in this position six months ago, I’d have told you to, well, you know what!’ Kirrane said. ‘The ambition this year was to ride my (apprentice) claim out, let alone ride in a Group One.’
As he said that, he looked around at the breathtaking scenery and the cavernous stands that will hum with a 70,000 crowd tonight. This, genuinely, is everyone living in a dream. ‘You can use that cliché,’ Kirrane, a 23-year-old, who was born in Dublin, said with a smile. ‘I keep telling myself it’s just another ace. But this is the place where I saw Zenyatta win the Classic (in 2008). Now we are here.’
He paused, then captured with one phrase.
‘Really,’ Kirrane said. ‘It’s just insane.’