The Challenge Stakes (G2)

True Valour at Leopardstown in August

Recommendation: True Valour 25/1 ew

The G1 Fillies Mile is the main event with the G2 Challenge Stakes acting as support on what is a cracking card on this the opening day of the Future Champions Day Festival at Newmarket.

It has attracted four Irish entries, Rehana, Gordon Lord Byron, True Valour and Cougar Mountain.

If one is to win they’ll have to beat a home team headed by Limato. He has not hit the heights he did last year when winning the July Cup and Prix de la Foret and he comes here on the back of a below par run in the Lennox Stakes in early August in what it has to be said has been a below par season.

When he took the July Cup last year he beat Suedois a comfortable 2 L s and in France in The Foret he had him back in third beating him an even more comfortable 3 L s that time. Suedios went to America last weekend and won the Shadwell Turf Mile one of the premier turf races on the American pattern calendar.

Before that Suedois was in Ireland where he won The Enterprise Stakes, the form of which is working out very well. He beat Johnny Murtagh’s True Valour a 1/2 L on that occasion, who’d gone off an unconsiderd 25/1 shot with Phsychedelic Funk back in third and Sir John Lavery back in fourth.

Phsychedelic Funk has won since and Sir John Lavery was second in the Joel Stakes.

The Enterprise was a real step up for Johnny’s colt and if he can match that now dropping down in trip to 7 F he can present a real alternative to the favourite. Again he’s unconsidered and available at 25/1.

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The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1)

Recommendation: Dschingis Secret 16/1, Idaho 33/1 (Both EW & RFC)

Embed from Getty Images

Idaho runs second to Harzand in last years Irish Derby. Picture courtesy of Alan Crowhurst and Getty Images.

Dschingis Secret and Idaho offer the best alternatives to Enable in the Arc today.

The German horse took the eye in a smooth performance in the Prix Foy last time out when he was an easy winner from Cloth Of Stars and Santono Diamond. He was similarly impressive in beating Hawksbill in the Grosser Preis von Berlin the time before.

Idaho is appealing with soft ground the order of the day. He was a staying on third to Enable at Ascot in the King George in July. As a three-year old he was a 1 1/4 L behind Harzand in the Ballysax on heavy ground in the spring before running third at Epsom in the Derby and second at the Curragh in the Irish Derby to the same horse.

It will require an upset, Enable to be either off her game or unlucky. Shocks can happen in the Arc especially on soft ground and drawn two means Frankie may either have to dictate it or if he takes a pull rely on luck to get out off the rail.

Thats why it worth taking her on.

 

 

The Park Stakes (G2)

 

Peace Envoy at Naas before the Tetrarch Stakes

Peace Envoy is a big price today at Doncaster for the Park Stakes over 7f.

He’s a three-year old running against older horses, something he did for the first time in the Minstrel Stakes last time out at the Curragh in July over this trip.

On that occasion like today he had Seamie Heffernan on his back. He raced at the back of the field and Seamie quietly brought up the inner. At the two furlong pole he was tracking the subsequent winner his stable companion Spirit Of Valour who also runs today. When they quickened he was slightly caught for toe and the gap in front of him closed. Within a couple of strides his chance was gone and Seamie had no choice but to pull him up for fear he would come down. Chance gone.

As a juvenile he’d had a few very good run’s beating King Electric on debut, probably Ger Lyons best three-year old this year, and running second in the Railway Stakes to another Ger Lyons inmate Medicine Jack.

This year as a three-year old he made his comeback on bank holiday Monday at Naas in the Tetrarch Stakes with Ryan Moore in the plate. He got no run when boxed in on the rail. He then went to the French Guineas where he got no luck in running with Ryan unable to get a gap having to switch him a number of times but to no avail.

Next time out in the St James’s Palace Stakes over a mile again he wore headgear. He was lit up from the gate carrying his head awkwardly refusing to settle and his race was over by halfway.

Clearly he’s considered highly at home bearing in mind where they’ve sent him and he’s one that Seamie has been sweet on. He’s no doubt got an engine and this trip of seven furlongs might just be his optimum.

If he settles today and gets a clean run, at 28/1 he’s worth backing.

Recommendation: Peace Envoy 28/1 ew

 

 

Irish Champion Stakes (G1)

 

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.

Recommendation:

Irish Champion Stakes:  Zhukova 12/1 ew 

                                            Zhukova and Decorated Knight (RFC)

Boomerang Stakes:        Alexios Konmenos 9/4 win

The Matron Stakes:       Enjoy Winter