Epsom trainer Adam West enjoyed a breakthrough big-race victory as Live In The Dream blazed his way to a shock Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes success at York.
The progressive four-year-old was steadily improving through the ranks this term, having started the season by winning a pair of handicaps, but he was lining up in Group One company for the very first time on the Knavesmire.
Pinging the gates and sent straight to the front in the hands of Sean Kirrane, the son of Prince Of Lir surged his way up the five-furlong track and was not for catching as defending champion and 7-5 favourite Highfield Princess tried in vein to hunt down the surprise 28-1 scorer.
It was not only a first Group One triumph, but a first Group-level victory of any kind for both West and Kirrane as they enjoyed their finest hour in one of the season’s fastest-run contests.
West said: “I never thought it was possible to win. We were laughing about there being six places and how his odds were so skinny. We should have backed him to win!
“I’ve had a Group One winner, it’s amazing. I think we’ll go to the Breeders’ Cup as I think he’s 10lb better on a turning track. That’s a big statement, but I do. He can get a breather round a bend whereas on these straight courses he usually can’t, but he just nicked enough today.
“We were going to take him for a race at Del Mar but we costed it, we’re not a big yard and it was too expensive to go.”
Pace has always been Live In The Dream’s number one asset and following placed efforts when getting a taste of Group action earlier in the season in both the Palace House Stakes and Temple Stakes, York was tailor-made for the Epsom-based speedster.
West added: “In the Temple Stakes we think the ground might have been a touch too quick for him and he hung a little bit away from the rail. Today with that tiny bit of rain he has been able to fully let himself down and keep straight.
“This is incredible I never thought anything like this would happen. Seven years I’ve been training and we’ve had him from a yearling and the journey has been incredible.
“I have to do what I have to do and if a horse shows the ability I will stick them in the races. That’s what I have always done. It’s a really tough game at the moment and you look at how things are and you think ‘is this a future’ and then you get something like this and it changes everything.
“I’ve always joked that we had the fastest horse in the south of England and we’ve just gone and proved it I think.”
The Nunthorpe serves as a ‘win and you’re in’ for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and West is now relishing a trip to Santa Anita in early November.
“I can’t wait, let’s take them on,” he said. “It is an amazing opportunity and something we never ever thought we would get.
“Trying to make ends meet to try to get that money together and both get him over there and get him back is just all taken care of and it’s some rollercoaster.”
Although securing a first top-level success, West does not envisage it causing a massive upturn in his fortunes and he is more than content to continue plying his trade on the smaller scale in Epsom.
He explained: “Epsom is the perfect mix of town and country for me, I can be out with my ferrets in 20 minutes one way and out in town with my owners 20 minutes the other.
“It’s the perfect place for me and I’m very happy. The owners in that tight-knit community have been fantastic. All this week and the last six months Epsom has been quoted saying it needs a Group One winner and they have just had one.
He went on: “It’s not viable (training), it is simply not viable. The BHA do their best to govern and mind us as trainers, but realistically unless you are on the top, top scale, training is not a viable option.
“But money is not why any of us do it, we do it because we love the animals and we love the whole sport. Ultimately grassroots will always be there because of the passion, but we are under serious strain and any help we would be grateful of.
“But we will take this as one of the peaks.”