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Ribchester loves it where 'Surf meets the Turf'

J A McGrath

Godolphin jockey William Buick had his first sighting of popular Del Mar, with its tight turns and short stretches, in the company of the horse he describes as 'the best miler I have ridden.'

Ribchester and Buick made a fine couple as they breezed around the Turf circuit on Wednesday as if they had been long-time regulars.

If Ribchester felt burnt out by the experience of finishing a gallant second in Ascot's QEII Stakes in stamina-sapping ground on October 21, there was no visible evidence. Not to this observer, anyway.

Beforehand, Buick admitted that Del Mar was one major track he had never even seen. "I think most of the jockeys from Europe this year are in the same boat," he said.

"We have had plenty of experience of Belmont, Santa Anita and Arlington, and others, but Del Mar is not normally on the schedule," he added.

"I rode Ribchester on the track for the first time and I thought it was a beautiful (turf) surface," he pointed out.

Buick was hardly surprised by the tightness of the track, but he found the bends more accommodating than he had expected.

The Richard Fahey-trained Ribchester lines up as a major challenger for Saturday's G1 Breeders' Cup Mile, which will be the final race in an illustrious three-season career.

He will start from gate 10 in the 14-runner field, but the jockey is not concerned at being a fraction wider than ideal.

"I think starting from 10 gives us options," Buick explained. "Ribchester is one of the most exciting horses I have ever ridden, and he deserves to go out on a high," he added.