DONCASTER, England// Gary Moore is hoping that the marathon test of the Group 2 Doncaster Cup will help to bridge the gulf in class between Godolphin's Opinion Poll and his runner, Bergo, when the two clash today.
Opinion Poll lost out to Fame And Glory in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June, but since then has put in a bid to be the best British stayer after taking the Goodwood Cup, and then the Yorkshire Cup in the past six weeks.
Both times Opinion Poll finished ahead of Bergo, and Moore must be sick of the sight of Godolphin's royal blue silks.
In March, Bergo put a poor run in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy at Meydan racecourse behind him by finishing almost three lengths ahead of the Godolphin five-year-old, but was outpointed by the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Whispering Gallery in the Dubai Racing Club Gold Cup over 3,200m.
Opinion Poll has clearly improved since, but as Bergo won the Queen Alexandra Stakes - Britain's longest Flat race at 4,370m (two miles, five furlongs and 159 yards) - at Royal Ascot last year, Moore believes today's extra 400m in the Doncaster Cup, which is run over 3,621 metres (two miles and two furlongs) could help bring the two horses closer together. "If I am honest, I think Bergo just got a better ride in Dubai," Moore said.
"I can't guarantee that the extra distance will bridge the gap, but it will certainly help. He just gallops all day, and is in good form.
"All being well he'll go to Meydan again next season, and I'll hopefully pick up a few more horses for the trip."
Meeznah is another who could be travelling soon, after the four-year-old filly took another step towards participating in the Melbourne Cup yesterday with an impressive victory in the Group 2 Park Hill Stakes.
Up against Dermot Weld's Sense Of Purpose, who also holds an entry to November's international handicap, Meeznah recovered from her dismal performance at Newbury to win by three and a half lengths from Set To Music.
After setting a course record at Goodwood in July, Meeznah, owned by Saif Ali and Saeed Al Tayer, flopped badly due to unsuitable going.
Pat Smullen set a genuine pace aboard Sense Of Purpose and, pressed by Spin, the pair had opened up a four-length lead on Meeznah by the time they reached Doncaster's long straight.
With 800m to go, Frankie Dettori started to galvanise Meeznah, who hit the front at the 400m pole and held on. Polly's Mark was third, while Sense Of Purpose tailed off to finish last.
"I was a little bit worried that maybe I'd gone to the well once too often after Goodwood," said David Lanigan, Meeznah's trainer. "We gave her a full check-up, freshened her up and she did two bits of work.
"She's entered on British Champions Day [October 15] and there's also the Melbourne Cup - the trip would be no problem as she stays all day.
"There's a lot to decide but this has been the plan all year. I would love to keep her in training next year but it's up to the owners."