Tag Archives: Churchill

Breeders Cup Night Preview


Breeders Cup Juvenile: US Navy Flag 9/1 win

Breeders Cup Turf: Decorated Knight 9/1 ew 

Breeders Cup Classic: War Decree 40/1 ew

Churchill returns after The Irish Champion Stakes

The Classic is the richest race on the card and it is one in which Aidan O’Brien hopes to create a surprise to cap on his monumental season.

He runs two, War Decree and Churchill.

Churchill is on somewhat of a retrieval mission having been champion two year old and a dual Guineas winner however the latter part of the season has gone somewhat downhill. Aidan has said the run in the Champion Stakes has given him the encouragement to come here and have a crack on dirt against America’s best. In his trainers mind he retains all the ability he sees at home.

War Decree’s road to Del Mar has been very different. As a two-year old he beat Thunder Snow in the G2 Vintage Stakes and a lot was expected of him at the start of his three-year old season. He began it in April going off favourite for the Craven Stakes but he didn’t fire and was well beaten.

He then went to Chantilly for the French Derby where again he got beat when fifth behind Brametot. Ryan Moore described it as a much better effort than it seemed to the eye. He didn’t get a clear run and never got a chance to impose himself on the race but Ryan was satisfied the engine was there. Aidan has since said that is when the plan for Del Mar was hatched.

He was put away until the Diamond Stakes at Dundalk in late September. It’s a race Aidan has identified as good preparation for his aspiring Breeders Cup candidates whom he thinks will like a dirt surface. His past winners include Mastercraftsman in 2009 and Declaration Of War in 2012. The latter went on to contest this race in 2013 just getting beaten in a three-way finish.

The Classic is a race that has eluded Ballydoyle, War Decree and Churchill will try to put that right. Churchill has been on the go throughout a long season, it’s the fresh War Decree who could spring the surprise and outrun his odds.

He might just land it.

Decorated Knight has a look round after winning the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown

In the Breeders Cup Turf unfortunately Ulysses is declared a non runner on veterinary advise and Highland Reel is now a short price to defend his crown. Like last year you expect him to be ridden prominently and to boss the race. He might find Roger Charlton’s Decorated Knight coming late to pip him on the line just as he did to Poets Word in the Irish Champion Stakes.

US Navy Flag on Debut at Naas

US Navy Flag has come a long way since making his debut at Naas on the 1st of May. He runs here in the Breeders Cup Juvenile on dirt. He won his maiden at the fifth attempt but has since won the G1 Middle Park Stakes and G1 Dewhurst Stakes where he beat Mendelssohn comfortably . The Dewhurst form was given a considerable boost last night with Mendelssohn’s win in the Juvenile Turf. He’s got to have a great chance here if he handles the dirt.


The Irish 2000 Guineas (Group 1)

Lancaster Bomber at Leopardstown last August

An intriguing Irish 2000 Guineas where Churchill is nearly impossible to oppose.

As predicted he added to his stature by winning the English 2000 Guineas two weeks ago. The only surprise being before the race the handicapper had him rated 122 but the Newmarket run has been measured at 120.

The talk of Derby has filtered away and Aidan has chosen to keep him at a mile. Fear of him has meant only three trainers will take him on but it’s doubtful any really expect to beat him. Lancaster Bomber will once again accompany him to post as does his Sprit Of Valour who wasn’t able to provide the pace at Newmarket.

Mick Halford has had to throw his lightly raced Irishcorrespondent in at the deep end. He only came to Mick this year and what he’s shown them at home he’s repeated on the racecourse. He was a good winner of a maiden catching the eye with an impressive victory over a mile at Leopardstown in April and last Sunday he put in another impressive show when easily accounting for Homesman, a Ballydoyle inmate, who had previously won a maiden at Limerick. He really is a horse to like. He was able to do it easy both times putting distance between himself and the others in a matter of strides. How Mick would have loved another week between his races.

Thunder Snow is on a retrieval mission after his now infamous impression of a bucking bronco in the Kentucky Derby. Godolphin were optimistic heading into the race reckoning it was there best chance to lift the Run for the Roses. He’s something of a forgotten horse because of that run which is unfair as it’s most likely a slipped tack was the cause of the issue. He was a Group 1 winner as a juvenile when taking the Criterium International (G1) at Saint Cloud at the end of October then following up with two good runs at Meyden where he took the UAE Derby (G2). He’s something to find with Churchill on his Dewhurst run last year where he was 2 L inferior.

Glastonbury Song hails from Ger Lyons Glenburnie stable in Meath. His debut last September created some excitement with the manner in which he won it. Gliding across the surface his feet hardly touched the ground and one could imagine if he could repeat the same of turf he could be the stuff of dreams. That bubble burst in the 2000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown when he could only manage a modest fifth. Ger brought him back to Dundalk for a confidence booster a month ago which he got again relishing the surface easily winning by 2 1/2 L.

Churchill retains his 122 rating even though the handicapper saw his Newmarket run as slightly inferior to what he did last year. This gives a glimmer of hope to the connections of the others but in reality it’s about who’ll chase Churchill home.

Will it be Lancaster Bomber whose done that already at G1 level in the Dewhurst Stakes (G1). Will it be Thunder Snow the only other G1 winner in the race. Could that potential shown by Irishcorrespondent be good enough or will Glastonbury Song create the dance we seen on Dundalk’s all weather on this good to firm turf?

Can your hear the festive roar.

Recommendation: 1,Churchill 2. Glastonbury Song (Forecast)

Glastonbury Song 50/1 e.w (small interest)

2000 Guineas Stakes (G1)

Lancaster Bomber is greeted by Aidan O’Brien after winning his maiden at Leopardstown last August

The smallest field in 22 years contests this Guineas and last year’s top ranked two year old Churchill heads the market.

He was beaten on debut last May but in five runs since he’s come out on top. The win sequence began in the Chesham Stakes (L) at Royal Ascot in June and continued through the summer with wins in the Tyros Stakes (G3) and the Futurity Stakes (G2). In the autumn he added the National Stakes (G1) and Dewhurst Stakes (G1), the top two-year old races in Ireland and Britain.

In command, kept on well, going away, comfortably and stayed on strongly are the descriptions of those runs. What it means is that he was a top class two-year old who improved throughout his juvenile career. As a three-year old will that progression be maintained?

This time last year Air Force Blue held similar credentials. In fact he was rated higher on 124 lbs going into the Guineas, 2 lbs above Churchill’s current mark of 122 lbs, and he started an odds on favourite for this race. He turned out to be bitterly disappointing only beating one home in this last year and his further three runs were no better. It’s unlikely Churchill fate will be similar more likely he’ll continue to progress. Air Force Blue is a War Front whereas Churchill is by Galileo.

Aidan O’Brien also sends Lancaster Bomber and Spirit Of Valour. The latter is the likely pacesetter. In the Dewhurst last year the betting suggested that Lancaster Bomber sent off at 66/1 was there to make the pace for Churchill but he stayed on strongly, as he did when he won his maiden, and filled the runners-up spot. He did it again in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). He was given a spin on dirt in the UAE Derby (G3) in March this year where he ran on well and connections have decided he’s better placed here than in Kentucky. If the pace collapses he will take it on and again he may prove difficult to overhaul.

Eminent trained by Martin Meade comes here on the back of a smart Craven win where he beat Rivet the Racing Post (G1) winner of last year. Prior to his win at Doncaster Rivet had run in the Dewhurst where he was beaten 3 1/2L by Churchill. It’s worth noting that we have not seen the Craven/Guineas double done since Haafhd in 2004.

Godolphin have a brace of entries headed by Barney Roy trained by Richard Hannon who also sends Larchmount Lad into the fray.

Richard is no stranger to winning this as in his first season in charge in 2014, after taking over from his father, he sent Night of Thunder out to overturn Kingman at odds of 40/1. That was a reversal of the result of that year’s Greenham. Barney Roy has travelled the same path and was an impressive winner of the Newbury trial where he beat the other Godolphin runner Saeed Bin Suroor’s Dream Castle by a cosy 2Ls.

Andre Fabre has made a flying start to the season already having won nine Pattern Races at home in France. He sends Al Wukair whom he hopes will follow in the footsteps of Zafonic and Pennekamp who both won the Guineas in the nineties. He has been bullish about his chances saying he expects a place at worst for the son of Dream Ahead. A winner of a maiden and at listed level as a juvenile he won his trial the Prix Djebel comfortably beating the previous G1 winner National Defence who had won France’s premier two-year old race for colts the Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1).

This Guineas field might be a small in number but it’s deep in quality.

There will be plenty of pattern race winners coming out of this and it’s conceivable six could go on to score at G1 level as the season progresses. The question is which will lift this prize. Barney Roy bursts with potential as does Al Wukair and both have already won over a mile. Eminent, Dream Castle and Lancaster Bomber are all promising colts but Churchill is rock solid.

Rarely does a colt who has achieved so much already break from the gate in a Guineas. There’s a slight question mark on the distance as he’s never raced beyond 7f but his pedigree suggests he’ll stay and his win in the Tyros suggests he’ll love the this good to firm ground. He also has the experience of winning over the course. Whilst the others are capable of achieving success at the highest level none of them have done it so far.

This will be a battle. You would imagine the Ballydoyle strategy will be to set a high cruising speed through Spirit Of Valour with Lancaster Bomber tracking him. If Seamie Heffernan’s mount falls away then Lancaster Bomber will be asked to pick it up.

Coming out of the dip Barney Roy will be produced with Al Wukair and Eminent in hot pursuit. Churchill is a very relaxed and laid back sort and Ryan will be able to leave it late to make his challenge. When he’s asked to quicken he won’t be flashy but he’ll get the job done probably by the minimum margin but also with the minimum of fuss.

He might be a short price but he’s the most likely winner of this.


Churchill  11/8 win.

Churchill and Barney Roy  (forecast)

Churchill, Barney Roy and Lancaster Bomber  (tricast)