Today’s QIPCO Champion Stakes at Leopardstown has the potential to be as good a flat race as we’ve seen in this country for many a year and, in what should be a tight affair, Golden Horn is narrowly preferred to Free Eagle and Gleneagles.
The selection was an easy winner of the Epsom Derby, and arguably more impressive when readily accounting for The Grey Gatsby in an exciting renewal of the Eclipse, at Sandown. If we can safely assume the ground was the reason for his shock defeat at the hooves of Arabian Queen, in the Juddmonte International, he should prove very hard to beat here.
The ten-furlong trip on decent ground would appear to be his optimum and he can fend off the challenge of top-class older horse Free Eagle, and Gleneagles, who is trying the trip for the first time.
The nap goes to the progressive Lightning Spear, in the Group 2 Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes. Olly Stevens’ horse had just one run as a juvenile, winning an all-weather maiden at Kempton, and again just one run as a three-year-old, in a Nottingham handicap, which he also won.
However, the son of Pivotal has clearly overcome the problems which kept him off the track for long periods, as this will be his fifth run of the season.
He started the term winning a handicap, off a mark of 91, and followed up off 5lbs higher. He then took a first step into group company, and ran a super race to finish second behind Arod in the Group 2 Summer Mile at Ascot.
On his next and most recent outing he was tried at the very top level, in the Prix Jacques Le Marois, at Deauville, and again ran really well to finish a close fourth behind leading mare Esoterique, with Newmarket 2000 Guineas runner-up Territories just a length and a half in front of him.
The ground may have been too soft that day, and today’s race represents a significant drop back in class for the rapidly progressive four-year-old. He is taken to make the most of the drop, to score at the expense of fellow raider Custom Cut, and Cougar Mountain.
Coolmore can take the opening fillies’ maiden for trainer Aidan O’Brien. She was clearly held in some regard prior to her debut, and her talent was abundantly evident as she ran on strongly to finish a close third behind another highly regarded sort, Zalfana.
Slow to break and out the back for much of the trip, she found her stride late, leaving the impression the experience would bring her forward quite significantly. That will have to be the case for the full sister to Gleneagles, as this is, inevitably, a red-hot maiden, but she can find the necessary improvement to account for Orangey Red and Gilded Reflection.
Following a surprise defeat at Leopardstown in July, the Jim Bolger-trained Sanus Per Aquam can get back on track with victory in the Group 3 Willis Champions Juveniles Stakes, while Legatissimo can take the Group 1 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes for David Wachman.
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