Irish Champion Stakes: Gleneagles Can Fly High
This year’s Irish Champion Stakes (Leopardstown 5.45, Saturday) has been brought forward on the card in a bid to beat the forecast rain, and if the ground remains on the good side it looks like being the race of the year so far.
The last 10 renewals have been won by six 3-year-olds, two 4-year-olds, and two 5 –year-olds, though the non-classic generation have also won 3 of the last 4. Dylan Thomas managed to win it two years on the trot, whilst Aidan O’Brien has trained the winner 5 times in the last decade. Other represented trainers to send out a winner in that period include John Gosden, John Oxx, Jim Bolger and Kevin Ryan.
There is a high-class field of 8 runners set to go to post, and here’s our analysis and tip.
Golden Horn 2/1
This year’s unbeaten Derby winner’s defeat last time at York was blamed on the rain-softened ground, and that may be a genuine excuse. However he wouldn’t be the first Derby winner to lose his form in the Autumn, though the Gosden stable is in brilliant form at the moment.
Free Eagle 4/1
Amazing performance to win at Royal Ascot on his seasonal debut, and trainer Dermot Weld , maintains he’s the best horse he’s trained. Needs to find a few pound with Golden Horn on a strict line through The Grey Gatsby, but could easily do that in a race that has always been on his agenda before a likely tilt at the Arc next month.
The necessary stamina for this 10-furlong contest is an unknown for the dual 2,000 Guineas winner, but his breeding conscious connections surely wouldn’t be risking millions in stallion fees if they thought he wouldn’t get the trip. Will probably be pulled out if the ground turns soft, but looks a big price if conditions are fine.
The Grey Gatsby 12/1
Last year’s winner is held by both Golden Horn and Free Eagle on this year’s form. No Ryan Moore in the saddle either, whilst challenged late and last in a race that was run at a fast pace last year. Trainer not in the best of form either.
Cirrus De Aigles 12/1
I never thought this globetrotting star would be 12/1 for any race, but injuries and age are perhaps beginning to take their toll. Could prove troublesome if the ground goes soft.
Highland Reel 25/1
Easy group 3 winner at Goodwood earlier this year, but looks short of top-class.
Runner-up in two group-1 mile races this year, before winning a 10-furlong group-3 last time out. Also ran some good races last Autumn, but not sure she’s quite up to winning this.
Group 1 winner at 1 mile and 12 furlongs, but this looks a bit of an afterthought after her York win.
Gleneagles looks the bet bearing in mind his trainer’s terrific record in the race, and at the prices is preferred to Free Eagle. If the rain comes it’s likely he’ll be pulled-out, which means we’ll get our money back.