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Irish Champions Weekend (G1)

It could be an exceptional day for the Niarchos Family.

The owners of both Alpha Centauri and Study Of Man may end the day celebrating having the best three year old filly and best three year old colt in the world, on turf at least.

The Matron Stakes (G1)

Alpha Centauri after her win in the Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh in May

Jessica Harrington’s filly began her sequence of mile win’s with the Irish 1000 Guineas in May followed by the Coronation Stakes in June and Falmouth Stakes in July. She improved with each run and last time out in the Jacques le Marois in August she was mighty impressive when she beat Recoletos who has since franked the form in no uncertain terms by winning the G1 Prix de Moulin at Lonchamp last week.

Happily, Clemmie, Magical and Lightening Quick are the other Irish contenders. It’s hard to see any of them upsetting the favourite as she’s beaten Happily and Clemmie at the Curragh with the latter also suffering defeat at Ascot and Newmarket as well. Happily has got the closest to her and a win or place for any of the Ballydoyle trio will cement Aidan O’Brien’s position at the top of PRWC 2018 Trainers Table.

Happily 27th July 2017 at Leopardstown

Magical has yet to take her on and Ryan Moore has opted for her over the other two. He may expect she’ll improve the most as she’s only had the two runs this year winning the Kilboy Estates Stakes last time out. She can be expected to improve again for that.

Johnny Murtagh will hope Lightening Quick can repeat the feat of winning as she did this day last year when trained by Ger Lyons for the Ballylinch Stud Maiden, the opening race on the card. This granted is a bit thougher.

Lightening Quick who won the first this day last year

Laurens, a dual G1 winner over 10f in France steps back to a mile, a distance she last ran at when second behind Billesdon Brooke in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket. It’s a bold step having tried a mile and a half in the Yorkshire Oaks where she didn’t stay the trip. Dan’s Dream accompanies her from England having already been a visitor when running second at listed level at Tipperary last time.

Jessica Harrington has done a fabulous job with Alpha Centauri, her pride and joy. She has got her confidence to grow and grow throughout the season and she’s treated us to better and more authoritative performances each time she’s run.

There’s a tiny doubt about her on slow ground, it’s been a showery day in Dublin today, and she was beaten here on her first run of the year on heavy ground. Whatever the ground her class will tell, at least enough to see her out with Happily the one to chase her home.

A win here will see her top PRWC 2018 Horse Table though she’ll probably be sharing top spot with Winx when she win’s the George Main Stakes at Ranwick in the morning.

Recommendation: Alpha Centauri, Happily (Exacta) 

The Irish Champion Stakes (G1)

Study Of Man also looked a proper horse in the making in the spring when winning the Prix Greffulhe as a prep for the Prix du Jockey Club.

At Chantilly he didn’t disappoint winning it snugly.

He was given a summer break and brought back in August for a G2 at Deauville where on the face of it he did disappoint running fourth however in hindsight it looked a decent effort and his jockey Stephane Pasquier who’ll be having his first ride at Leopardstown reports him in top order expecting he’ll come on an awful lot for the run.

John Gosden saddles the favourite, trading slightly odds on, Roaring Loin was impressive at York in the Juddmonte where he easily had the measure of Poets Word. The second had a difficult passage but in truth the loin had roared and was long gone and there was no chance he would have been reeled in.

Ballydoyle send a quartet of G1 winners headed by Saxon Warrior. The Guineas winner has not hit the heights expected after Newmarket and could not get to Roaring Loin last time out at York in the International. There had only been a neck between them at Sandown in the Eclipse but at York Roaring Loin had extended that to 5L. Deauville, Athena, Rhododendron also run with the best of them possibly the latter.

Willie Haggas sends Addeybb over having already plundered G1 riches here this season with Sea Of Class and Urban Fox. This is tricker.

Verbal Dexterity makes up the line up, Jim Bolger’s horse is the forgotten one having won the National Stakes last year he missed the early season through injury but did make a pleasing comeback when fourth in G3 at the Curragh recently. If he can show that kind of form again he could well be a force to be reckoned with.

A cracking days racing to open Champions Weekend. Alpha Centauri will likely be crowned Queen of Ireland in the Matron while in a fascinating Champion Stakes Roaring Loin and Study Of Man will both lay claims to being the best middle distance colt of this generation. Preference is for Study Of Man who could yet become King Of France if he adds this on route to the Arc.

Recommendation: Study Of Man 10/1 win and Verbal Dexterity 20/1 ew

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Juddmonte International Stakes (Group 1)

Poets Word last year at Leopardstown

This is the best race of the season to date. Full of intrigue.

Poets Word rightly heads the market trading at 6/4. He’s been the star middle distance performer this season. His second last year in the Irish Champion Stakes marked him out as something to look forward too this year. He matched that placing in the spring at Meyden in the Dubai Sheema Classic before taking the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot beating Cracksman and then winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, again at Ascot, beating stablemate Crystal Ocean in a hard fought battle.

Against him are the current classic crop.

Saxon Warrior the Guineas winner found 12f beyond him at Epsom when running fourth in the Derby and likewise at the Curragh he didn’t stay when finishing third. A week later he was stepped back in trip to 10f for the Eclipse where he was involved another cracker with Roaring Loin who just came out on top by a neck, the Gosden colt having previously run second in the Derby.

Joseph O’Brien’s Latrobe was the beneficiary of a muddling pace when taking the Irish Derby however that was not his fault and he was there to capitalise when others couldn’t. The step back in trip here will be interesting given his profile suggests he was more likely to be considered a Leger candidate and ultimately a Melbourne Cup one. He did show pace at the Curragh.

Godolphin who head Coolmore in the PRWC 18 Owners championship are represented by a pair of four-year olds in Benbatl and Thunder Snow. Both had a four race campaign at Meyden in the spring culminating in wins in the Dubai Turf over 9f for Benbatl and Dubai World Cup on dirt over this trip for Thunder Snow. Benbati did disappoint in the Queen Anne when stepped back to a mile but bounced back to winning ways in a Group 1 in Germany, the Grosser Dallmayr Preis over 10f. Thunder Snow makes his European seasonal debut here after a good break.

Without Parole was very nearly the talking horse of the year. He missed the Guineas in the spring and was instead aimed at the St James’s Palace Stakes where he duly obliged justifying favouritism. He went to Goodwood for the Sussex Stakes where again going off favourite he finished down the field in seventh. He’s entitled to bounce back as at Ascot he looked top class.

Thundering Blue is the only one who hasn’t won a Group 1 yet however he has shown a real liking for this course having finished second in a John Smiths Cup and winning the G2 Sky Bet York Stakes here last time out.

This race promises much. Poets Word has been, as we have come to expect from older horses in the care of Sir Michael Stoute, a model of improvement and consistency. In his last two run’s he displayed his class when beating Cracksman and his heart in beating Crystal Ocean. Equally Roaring Loin has worn his heart on his sleeve at both Epsom and at Sandown.

Saxon Warrior looked a cut above the rest at Newmarket in the Guineas and maybe the Eclipse came a bit soon after the Irish Derby. He’s had a break now however the Ballydoyle form is a worry. Latrobe can he continue to surprise, he is in the hands of someone who knows a thing or two about it or can John Gosden get Without Parole back on track. Can Godolphin’s march this season continue? They do come here with a Dubai World Cup winner.

Intrigue aplenty even without Cracksman and Enable. Who’ll comes out on top.

Over this trip, possibly short of Poets Word ideal and giving weight to the three-year old’s, a healthy Saxon Warrior might just slay him and Roaring Loin. He’s had a break something he didn’t have the last time they met at Sandown.

Incidentally a win for Poets Word or Benbati could see either go second in the PWRC 18 Horse championships.

Recommendation: Saxon Warrior 11/2 win

Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes (G 1)

Alpha Centauri after winning the Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas

It looks a one horse race, when Alpha Centauri heard her feet rattle she showed herself to be a cut above the rest. She blasted the field at the Curragh in the Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas beating the Ballydoyle inmates Could It Be Love and Happily. She repeated the feat in the Coronation Stakes at Ascot where she was even more impressive giving Mark Johnston’s Treading a 6 L trouncing.

The only issue you could crap about is the depth of the form. The two beaten at the Curragh, Could It Be Love and Happily, have both been beaten since. Could It Be Love ran third in the Jersey at Royal Ascot and was then second in the Browntown Stakes to Xenobia at Fairyhouse the other night.  That an interesting piece of form as it ties in one of the older mares here, Mick Channon’s Opal Tiara. She went to Ireland last time where she sprang a surprise beating another Ballydoyle inmate Hydrangea at G2 level in the Landwades Stud Stakes with Xenobia 12 L back in fifth.

Clemmie was European Champion two year old filly last year and at the beginning of the season she was, you would have thought, numero uno filly at Ballydoyle. She had a setback that meant she missed Newmarket’s Guineas however she did start at the Curragh and at Ascot where she was well beaten both times by Alpha Centauri.

On the plus side she needed her first two run’s last season also before we saw the real Clemmie. She finished her juvenile career with a cracking win in the Cheveley Park but again if your crabby, the form is now questionable as she beat Different League, since purchased by Coolmore, who hasn’t managed a win in five runs this year.

Mark Johnston’s second runner Nyaleti adds some spice having won the German 1000 Guineas last time out and it’s worth noting she was also only beaten a 1/2 L by Laurens in last year’s May Hill at Doncaster, good form now.

Arabian Hope, third in this last year and Altyn Orda complete the field. The latter ran fifth at Newmarket in the Guineas but couldn’t build on that last time out in France in the Prix de Sandringham.

Alpha Centauri is an unbackable price for most trading at 1/3 on however there might still be an opportunity in the place and each way markets for a small interest. Unfortunately there are only seven runners which restricts the play to first and second.

Opal Tiara is having her last racecourse run, she is in foal to Churchill, something that might just tilt the age weight concession here for her. Xenobia’s win last Sunday puts her in the mix and she’s already taken a big scalp in Ireland when beating a double G1 winner in Hydrangea.

She could depart West Issley leaving a big smile on Mick Channon’s face.

Recommendation: Opal Tiara  40/1 ew

 

 

Saint James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1)

Embed from Getty Images

Romanised storms home in the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh. Picture courtesy of Getty Images and Ray McManus.

Without Parole heads the market for this. He’s been a talking horse since his demolition of Ostilio at Yarmouth in April and he’s since won at Sandown in May beating Gabr in not quite so convincing fashion albeit on soft ground. Gabr takes him on here again. He’s by Frankel and is trained by John Gosden which is why he’s so short in the market. If he didn’t have such illustrious connections he’d be a far bigger price.

The form horse here is Ken Condon’s Romanised.

He was our recommendation for the Irish 2000 Guineas and he didn’t disappoint coming home a comfortable 2 1/4 L’s in front of US Navy Flag with Gustav Klimt a further 1 1/4 L’s back in third with Threeandfourpence another length away in fourth. He loved the firm ground at the Curragh and there was no fluke about it. He travelled easy in behind and when Shane Foley produced him on the outside he easily dismissed the O’Brien trio in a matter of strides displaying a serious turn of foot.

Roger Teal’s Tip To Win ran second at Newmarket behind Saxon Warrior in the English 2000 Guineas with Masar a head behind him in third. Again there was no fluke about the performance and the form has got a considerable boost not from Saxon Warrior but from Masar with his victory in the Derby.

Godolphin are represented by the French trained Wootton. Henri-Alex Pantall’s colt lost his unbeaten run in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains when going down 2 L to Olmedo. He’d gone off favourite for the race having beaten Olmedo in the a trial in April, the Prix de Fontainebleau. He’s a threat however US Navy Flag also ran in the race finishing 1 L behind him there before going on to be beaten by Romanised at the Curragh.

Martyn Meade has elected to run Chilean here having abandoned plans to turn him into a stayer. Last time out he contested the Sandown Classic Trial running forth. Before that he did put in a good display when beating subsequent French Derby winner Study Of Man in the Prix La Force in April.

It’s an intriguing race, Without Parole could be anything but he’s way too short in the market for what he has achieved. Romanised was the best horse in Irish 2000 Guineas and on form that puts him in front of the French Guineas running through the US Navy Flag form line and similarly through the Gustav Klimt form line he has the beating of Tip To Win. The surprise package here could be Chilean who has the scalp of Study Of Man who might be the best middle distance three year old seen to date this year. The concern here is the mile might be a bit on the sharp side against these specialists.

Romanised is over priced here as he was at the Curragh. He’s trained by Ken Condon who run’s a small yard on the Curragh hence the market dismisses his chance and he is the price he is. He should be a short price favourite, he has the form in the book, he’s drawn well in six and he’ll love this fast ground. The Royal Ascot crowd will get to know Ken Condon.

Recommendation: Romanised 11/2 win