Zhukova on her way out to win the Enterprise Stakes last year.
” I’ve been waiting such a long time, looking out for you but your not here.”
It’s Minding we’ll miss, if injury hadn’t curtailed her career she could have blown the season apart and expectation would have been she would have been crowned Queen of Ireland in the Champion Stakes here.
The show goes on and Churchill fills the role as the Ballydoyle number one. The dual Guineas winner has been beaten twice since. The poor run at Royal Ascot is still a mystery but it’s forgotten now after a good return to form in the International at York. He and Barney Roy cut their own throats by having a private battle setting it up for Ulysses He mightn’t have won but he put in a very solid performance proving he could see out the step up in trip to 10f.
Alas, the race doesn’t have the depth in quality it had last year, a truly exceptional year, it’s still intriguing none the less. That’s down to the presence of Eminent. He put in a cracking effort over this trip in Deauville last time out. He was ridden by Ryan Moore that day and given a soft lead the field couldn’t peg him back. That won’t happen here so will Frankie Dettori in the saddle for the first time take it on or will he sit and wait.
Most likely it’ll be Ken Condon’s Success Days who will set the pace. He a confirmed front-runner who last time out at York in the Sky Bet Stakes just saw it out to win by a nose. He’ll love every drop of rain that falls.
The 2014 winner The Grey Gatsby now trained by Dermot Weld is back. He’s a shadow of the horse who won when beating Australia and it’s more likely Zhukova would give Rosewell House the better opportunity to claim this prize.
Zhukova is a lightly raced five-year old who won the Enterprise Stakes here last year in impressive style. She’s since a G1 winner when she took the Man o’ War at Belmont in May this year. She ran a cracker in July in the Pretty Poly when only tiring in the last furlong and this shorter trip after a nice break will be right up her street.
Decorated Knight is back in Ireland the scene of his last G1 win where at the Curragh he took the Tattersalls Gold Cup also in May. Luck has deserted him since, second to Highland Reel at Royal Ascot was followed by what his trainer Roger Charlton described as a frustrating run in the Eclipse. In the International at York he pulled muscles and in the circumstances ran magnificently to still be involved with a furlong to run.
The Stoute team sends Poet’s Word over instead of Ulysses. He’s three wins from seven, the last being a G3, the Glorious Stakes at Goodwood. He’s on the up and will like Ulysses turn into a nice five-year old. A similar case could be made for Jim Bolger’s Moonlight Magic whose shown flashes of potential never more than last time out when beating Deauville a head here in the Meld Stakes in July.
That leaves Cliffs Of Moher and Taj Mahal, the Ballydoyle supporting actors. The former hasn’t lived up to expectations, sent off as favourite for the Derby where he ran second, he hasn’t yet cut the mustard since running fourth in both the Eclipse and The International.
Taj Mahal went to Chicago where he ran his best race when second to Oscar Performance in the Secretariat Stakes. The winner won last years Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf and is now a triple G1 winner. 66/1 ignores his talent.
Aidan O’Brien hasn’t won Ireland’s premier all age race since So You Think won in 2011. St Nicholas Abbey, Australia, Found (twice) and Minding have all been beaten in this race. Can Churchill end the drought?
Chances are he can but at 11/10 he’s a short price for one whose been beaten at this distance albeit on his only try when caught in a headlock by Barney Roy.
It presents a doubt, enough to take him on, a fit Decorated Knight is interesting on what looks like good to yielding ground however there’s one who’ll love the ground and the track and is trained by a master in Dermot Weld.
And Twelve points go to … … Zhukova
Douze points Zhulova
I can hear Aidan humming on the way home in the car. I’ve been waiting…….
A happy Chris Hayes coming in after winning the Desmond Stakes in July
In The Boomerang Stakes Alexios Konmenos should follow up his win in the Desmond Stakes over course and distance in July.
Irish Champion Stakes: Zhukova 12/1 ew
Zhukova and Decorated Knight (RFC)
Boomerang Stakes: Alexios Konmenos 9/4 win
The Matron Stakes: Enjoy Winter