February 27, 2024

International profile for Nearctic: Cotai aims to go out in blaze of glory

Cotai Glory is a threat if running up to his best form (Photo courtesy of Michael Adolphson via Twitter)

If Sunday’s C$800,000 Canadian International (G1) lives up to its name with a notable European presence, the C$500,000 E.P. Taylor (G1) counters with three internationals of its own, and there’s also a foreign interest in the C$250,000 Nearctic (G2).

Let’s analyze the international shippers’ chances in race order, beginning with Charlie Hills’ sprinter Cotai Glory, who hopes to go out in a blaze of glory in the Nearctic. The son of Exceed and Excel is likely making his final start before entering stud.

Although it’s been three years now, I still think of him as the brilliant juvenile who had Doncaster’s Flying Childers (G2) sewn up before jinking and unseating his rider. His other accomplishments during that 2014 campaign were a victory in the Molecomb (G3) – in juvenile course-record time for five furlongs at Glorious Goodwood – and a clearly best-of-the-rest to Limato in the Rose Bowl. As a three-year-old tossed in against the sprint veterans in 2015, Cotai Glory held his own and scored over the ancient Kingsgate Native in the Scarborough (revisiting the scene of his Flying Childers miscue).

Cotai Glory has had mixed results as an older horse. Proving himself top-notch when almost upsetting Royal Ascot’s King’s Stand (G1) at 33-1 last summer, he threw in a few subpar efforts before adding the World Trophy (G3) at Newbury.


It’s been a similar story this season, except he’s still looking for his first win of 2017. Third to Marsha and Lady Aurelia in the Nunthorpe (G1), Cotai Glory was most recently a gamely chasing second in his World Trophy title defense.


So Cotai Glory brings august company lines, eclipsing those of his Nearctic rivals, and his profile can be summed up as “high class on his day.” But will that day be Sunday? He’s stepping up from his customary five-furlong trip to six, with the prospect of a turn assisting him. Connections believe his last try at this distance at Chester was actually too much turning, and the Woodbine turn plus lengthy straight will be better for him.

That said, the 4-for-28 favorite has never won for any jockey other than the injured George Baker, and new rider Oisin Murphy will have to establish instant rapport. Cotai Glory has generally preferred good ground, but he was more effective than thought in the soft-ground King’s Stand. If the rain causes Woodbine conditions to deteriorate significantly, however, it could become a question.