BC Internationals: Mile contender Cougar Mountain

October 30th, 2016

Cougar Mountain is very much Aidan O’Brien’s second stringer in the Mile (G1), with credentials not approaching those of stablemate Alice Springs. First on the also-eligible list, the five-year-old figures to get in if Chile’s Kitcat goes in the Filly & Mare Turf (G1) as her first preference.

The well-bred son of Fastnet Rock turned heads when finishing fifth in the 2014 July Cup (G1), beaten three lengths by Slade Power, in only his second career start. Cougar Mountain didn’t immediately build upon that promise, however, and his best Group 1 performance since then was a third to the streaking Solow in the 2015 Queen Anne (G1).

Cougar Mountain benefited from class relief to take last summer’s Desmond (G3) at Leopardstown, and he placed second as the defending champion there on August 11. The left-handed mile clearly suits him, for he also just missed at that track and trip in the May 8 Amethyst (G3). Cougar Mountain didn’t enjoy the soft ground back at Royal Ascot for the June 14 renewal of the Queen Anne, where he reported home a distant eighth behind Mile queen Tepin.

Firm going and a solid tempo are what Cougar Mountain really needs, as he demonstrated when driving to a new career high in the September 23 Joel (G2) at Newmarket. Wheeling back for the October 7 Challenge (G2), Cougar Mountain didn’t have the speed over seven furlongs and wound up a one-paced fifth as the favorite.

The Breeders’ Cup Mile meets Cougar Mountain’s prerequisites of a firm course and strong pace, plus the bonus of a left-handed circuit. But he’s pretty exposed at this juncture, and figures to find a few too good for him at this level.

Photo courtesy of At the Races via Twitter