Irish Champions Weekend Tips – Sunday

Yesterday was a half-decent day for the Irish Champions Weekend blog, returning a profit of £21.25. It was however a rough start, with no luck in the opener with Key To My Heart, before Douglas Macarthur was turned over in the next. However, things picked up after that, with Intense Tango running a cracker to place at 12/1, before wins for Zhukova at 5/2 and Awtaad at 2/1. The big race pick, Found, ran another blinder to finish 2nd to the incredibly impressive Almanzor, and I think I’m going to back her for the Arc at 14/1 (Betway), as well as Postponed at 5/1 (Ladbrokes). Anyway, time to focus on Day 2 of Irish Champions Weekend. It promises to be another top class day of racing, with a couple of Group 2s, as well as 3 Group 1s with the Moyglare, The National Stakes and of course the Irish St Leger, where Aidan O’Brien will be hoping for more success than in the English equivalent!

2.00 – Irish Stallion Farms EBF “Bold Lad” Sprint Handicap – 6f

As competitive as you would expect for a big field Premier Handicap, but the verdict here goes to Intisaab. David O’Meara’s gelding is in great form of late, as he has finished in the top 2 in each of his last 6 starts. He will need a career best to come put on top, but he has been progressive this season, a trend which I hope can continue here.

Selection: Intisaab (E/W)

Odds: 5/1 (BetVictor, Paddy Power, Betfair)


2.35 – Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes (Group 2) – 1m 2f

The first of the Group 2s on the day has attracted just the 6 runners, 2 of those representing Aidan O’Brien. And he looks to have the one to beat in Best In The World. His victory in the Group 3 Give Thanks Stakes is by far the best form on offer, and being rated 8lbs better than nearest rival Santa Monica, it is hard to see him getting beat, although he wouldn’t be the first O’Brien shortie to be turned over this weekend!

Selection: Best In The World

Odds: 10/11 (General)


3.10 – Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes (Group 2) – 5f

This looks a fascinating race, with a few Group 1 performers taking their place. One of those is Take Cover, and he is my pick for David Griffiths. This 9yo gelding is quite possibly the fastest of these, and has been in good form this season. He began by winning a Listed race at Haydock in May, where he had major market rival here Cotai Glory 1 1/2 lengths in arrears. From there he went to Royal Ascot, where he finished a disappointing 11th. However he did race all alone on the far side, so I’m going to forgive him that performance, especially after he won the Group 2 King George at Goodwood, where once again Cotai Glory was behing him. Both then headed to the Nunthorpe, where they finished 3rd and 4th. But once again, Take Cover won their little battle, just like he did at Haydock and Goodwood, so with the pair tied at the top of the market at 9/2 in most places, Take Cover seems the logical pick.

Selection: Take Cover

Odds: 5/1 (Betfred, Coral)


3.40 – Moyglare Stud Stakes (Group 1) – 7f

7 fillies line up for this Group 1, and with 4 of those (including the top 3 in the market) being saddled by Aidan O’Brien, it is very difficult to envisage this title not going back to Ballydoyle. Of those 4, I think it is between the top 2 in the market, Promise To Be True and Rhododendron, and it looks to be very hard to split the pair. Ryan Moore opts for the favourite Promise To Be True, but in his Betfair column, he did say that whilst his filly has a lot of potential, Rhododendron could be the “now” horse, and I tend to agree with him. Whilst Promise To Be True’s potential is factored into her price as an EVS fav, I tend to prefer those with form in the book, and with Rhododendron winning a Group 2 on just her 3rd start a couple of weeks ago, she brings very strong form to the race.

Selection: Rhododendron (NB)

Odds: 15/8 (BetVictor, William Hill)


4.15 – Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Group 1) – 7f

This looks to be a straight match between Churchill and Mehmas. The latter has a couple of Group 2s to his name, with Churchill having won a Group 3 and  Group 2, as well as the Chesham at Royal Ascot. Having run just the 4 times, Churchill is the more unexposed of the pair, and although I said before that I prefer proven form over potential, I am going to have to go against that theory here as my vote goes to Churchill. Whilst he hasn’t been the most visually impressive, or beaten much on his last couple of runs, the regards with which he is held by Ballydoyle is enough to persuade me to back him.

Selection: Churchill (Double with Order Of St George)

Odds: Double pays 1.02/1 (Paddy Power)


4.50 – Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger (Group 1) – 1m 6f

There’s really not too much to say about this race, other than it is impossible to oppose Order Of St George, the only thing that gets him beat is a repeat of the Idaho drama, or him going lame. He is an absolute superstar stayer, and there is no way he gets beat here barring any unfortunate circumstances. He has won each of his last 6 starts, including demolishing the field by 11 lengths in this race last year, as well as the Ascot Gold Cup. After this, I hope he heads to the Arc, where I have backed him ante-post at 14/1, as he is much much more than just a stayer, as he possesses a devastating turn of foot. In a soft/heavy ground Arc, he has every chance. The other option is the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day, but I hope they now send him to Chantilly. He actually looks to be their best hope of landing the spoils there, as there is no chance of US Army Ranger winning, and after the Champion Stakes I cannot see Minding getting her head in front either. Found can’t be ruled out, but Ballydoyle may be tempted to send their superstar colt to Paris, and I certainly hope that is the case.

Selection: Order Of St George (Double with Churchill)

Odds: Double pays 1.02/1 (Paddy Power)


5.25 – Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes (Plus 10 Race) – 6f 63y

Today’s NAP runs here in Medicine Jack (pictured, near side), and despite the big field he is a decent price to land the spoils, with 5 firms going 5/2 on him to do so. This is a Group 2 winner taking a big drop in class, and runs against plenty with a hell of a lot to find on all known form. Yes, a couple, most notably Panassian and Humbert, are very unexposed, but I do not see them improving enough to overturn the Ger Lyons colt, and I see him winning this with little fuss.

Selection: Medicine Jack (NAP)

Odds: 5/2 (Bet365, BetVictor, Ladbrokes, Coral, William Hill)


5.55 – Irish Stallion Farms EBF “Northfields” Handicap – 1m 2f

A tricky looking handicap to mark the end of Irish Champions Weekend, and I’m going to take a bit of a chance on Tara Dylan at a decent price. Thomas Mullins’ filly has been put up 7lbs for her win 2 weeks ago, but that was a comfortable win, and she has progressed at some rate in recent months, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of her yet.

Selection: Tara Dylan (IWAC)

Odds: 20/1 (Stan James)


Irish Champions Weekend Tips – Saturday

Day 1 of Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown looks an absolute corker with a pair of Group 3s, the Group 2 Boomerang Stakes, as well as the two Group 1s in the Matron Stakes, and what is without a doubt the strongest ever Champion Stakes field.

3.30 – Ballylinch Stud EBF Fillies Maiden (Plus 10 Race) – 7f

12 fillies are making their debut here, including a half-sister to Awtaad, but I think the 2 to focus on are the Ballydoyle pair Key To My Heart and Wild Irish Rose. These 2 both raced in the same maiden at Curragh last month, with Key To My Heart 3rd, and Wild Irish Rose 2 1/4 lengths back in 5th. Key To My Heart did have the benefit of experience that day so Wild Irish Rose bring a large improvement, but Ryan Moore chooses Key To My Heart and he looks to be the stable first string here, in what looks like a match between the O’Brien fillies.

Selection: Key To My Heart

Odds: 11/4 (Bet365, Paddy Power, William Hill)


4.00 – Willis Towers Watson Champions Juvenile Stakes (Group 3) – 1m

Like the opener, this also looks a 2 horse race, with the pair being Douglas Macarthur for Aidan O’Brien, and Radio Silence for Jim Bolger. And once again it’s hard to see past the Ballydoyle colt, who is the favourite for next year’s Derby. He went off 2/5 fav on debut here at Leopardstown before strolling home last of the 6. However, he proved that debut run all wrong when shedding the maiden tag at the 2nd attempt here in July, looking mightily impressive when scoring by 5 lengths. He is impeccably bred, being a full brother to Oaks heroine Was, and currently I think he is the rightful favourite for the Derby and I don’t see him having too much trouble here. If he does underperform, Radio Silence should be the one to capitalise. He was 2nd to Churchill in the Futurity Stakes last month, and whilst that is certainly no disgrace, significant improvement will be needed here stepped up to a mile should Douglas Macarthur progress as expected.

Selection: Douglas Macarthur

Odds: 1/2 (Betfair)


4.35 – Irish Stallion Farms EBF “Petingo” Handicap – 1m 6f

This looks much more difficult to find the victor than the opening pair, but a tentative vote for me goes to the Karl Burke mare Intense Tango. The 5yo is in rude health lately, with 2 wins and 2 seconds from her last 4 starts. She has actually been dropped 3lbs for her win at Haydock last weekend, which seems very lenient indeed. I see no reason why she can’t go close, especially with Karl Burke’s yard in decent form of late. The main threat could be Quick Jack, who finished a very respectable 3rd to Heartbreak in the Ebor in his last race. He has only been put up 2lbs for that effort, and can defy top weight to run a big race.

Selection: Intense Tango (E/W)

Odds: 12/1 (Bet365, SkyBet, Paddy Power, Coral)


5.05 – KPMG Enterprise Stakes (Group 3) – 1m 4f

Only 5 runners will line up for this Group 3, with 3 of those representing Aiden O’Brien, but it still looks a fascinating renewal. The obvious starting point is Epsom Derby runner-up US Army Ranger. He wasn’t seen in his 2yo season, but got off the mark immediately to win his maiden at the first attempt, before scraping home in a controversial Chester Vase. From there he headed straight to the Derby, where he ran on very well to finish 2nd to Harzand. He was then given just short of 3 months off before his reappearance at the Curragh last month. He was always going to need the run, but was very disappointing nonetheless and I’m not willing to take a chance on him being back to his Derby form. Instead, my money is on Zhukova for Dermot Weld. She impressed on both of her starts early this season, demolishing the likes of Pretty Perfect and Bocca Baciata in a Group 3 at Naas in May. She has been off since, but that isn’t too much of an issue and looks to be in with every chance of making it 3 from 3 in 2016. The other to mention is Jim Bolger’s colt Stellar Mass. His only defeat this season came in the Irish Derby, however he never really challenged the front pair, and I don’t see him getting the better of Zhukova.

Selection: Zhukova (NB)

Odds: 2/1 (General)


5.35 – Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes (Group 1) – 1m

Despite Minding opting for the Champion Stakes instead, there is still plenty of quality in this year’s Matron. The favourite is Qemah (pictured), and quite rightly so in my opinion. She has won 3 of her 4 starts this term, starting with a Group 3 at Chantilly, before a good 3rd behind La Cressonniere (who looks a cracking bet for the Arc) in the French 1000 Guineas. From there she went to Royal Ascot, where she ran out a very impressive winner of the Group 1 Coronation Stakes, where she had a few of these well behind her. She then produced a career best in the Prix Rotschild to confirm herself as a top class filly. A repeat of either of those performances may suffice here, although I see no reason why she won’t have progressed further. The main danger is likely to be Persuasive. Unbeaten in 5 starts, she took a Sandown Group 3 by 3 lengths from Veliefendi scorer Blond Me, and is certainly deserving of her place in this field. However, Qemah should be too good for these.

Selection: Qemah (NAP)

Odds: 7/4 (Paddy Power)


6.10 – Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes (Group 2) – 1m

It wasn’t too long before my money was down on Awtaad for this one. His only bad run was LTO when 8th in the Sussex Stakes where the ground was far too quick, so a line can be drawn through that. If he had not ran there, he’d be a hell of a lot shorter than he is, so it seems a no brainer. He gets his ground today, and Irish 2000 Guineas winner is most definitely the one to beat. Second choice would be Tribal Beat, who was fairly impressive over C&D last month, and there could be more improvement to come from Jim Bolger’s colt. Behind him that day was Hit It A Bomb. Last year’s Breeders Cup Juvenile winner was disappointing on his return when behind Tribal Beat. Being by War Front, there was a big debate on whether he’d trained on. Personally, I don’t think you can say from that run that he hadn’t trained on, however we will find out at about 12 minutes past 6 this afternoon.

Selection: Awtaad

Odds: 15/8 (BoyleSports, BetVictor, Paddy Power, Stan James)


6.45 – QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1) – 1m 2f

It’s the big one, and what a field we have! No less than 9 Group 1 winners from the 13 runners, with 17 Group 1 titles between them. Whatever happens it is sure to be an enthralling race, and I really can’t wait to see how it unfolds. At the head of the market, we have the Oaks winner Minding, and Derby victor Harzand. Even if just these 2 showed up it’d still be some race! I’ll start with Minding, now a 6-time Group 1 winner. I backed her ante-post at 5/2 a few days ago, which doesn’t seem too smart now with her widely available at a better price than that. She is without a doubt the outstanding filly of her generation, and taking on the colts for the first time today, it will take something special to get the better of her. However there are plenty in this field capable of producing something special, not least Harzand. I also backed him ante-post at 7/2 a few weeks ago, which doesn’t seem too bad now however I won’t be rushing to back him again today. There are a couple of reasons why I won’t be going back in. The first is the trip. There is no doubting his optimum trip is an extra couple of furlongs, so he has to prove he is just as effective over 10f as he is at 12f. The other reason is that this is not his main end of season target, as that honour goes to the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. Because of that, he may not be quite at his best here, so I’ll look elsewhere. We have a couple of French raiders in Jean-Claude Rouget’s Almanzor and Andre Fabre’s New Bay, the last 2 winners of the Prix du Jockey Club. Almanzor was somewhat of a surprise winner of this year’s renewal at 20/1, and the suspicion is that he is the best of a below par bunch of French classic contenders, and he does have a little bit to find on ratings. Onto New Bay, who looks the better of the French pair, despite the betting favouring Almanzor. He has only ran twice this season, most recently when running out a comfortable winner in a Deauville Group 3. However, it is last year’s form that would give him every chance. If he can reproduce the performance that saw him win the Prix Niel or finish 3rd behind Golden Horn and Flimtshire in the Arc, then he is in with every chance. However, I don’t usually like to take chance on those relying on last year’s form to be competitive, and I won’t be doing it today, especially in a race as hot as this. Instead, my pick is the Ballydoyle second string, Found. She will be ridden by Seamie Heffernan, who will fly over having hopefully steered Idaho to victory in the St Leger. One reason for my selection is that she is just so consistent at this level, running between 118 and 120 on official ratings on her last 6 starts. She was 2nd to stablemate Seventh Heaven most recently at York (who incidentally I’d have loved to have seen here), but that was after a couple of months off and Aidan O’Brien was fairly certain she just needed the run, so should be back at the top of her game here, and whilst it may take a career best to win this, she’s certainly capable of producing just that.

Selection: Found (E/W)

Odds: 10/1 (Ladbrokes, Betway)


7.20 – Irish Stallion Farms EBF “Sovereign Path” Handicap – 7f 20y

As you would expect from a big field handicap, this is mightily competitive. 3yos have more than held their own in this race in the past, and I see no reason why Sikandarabad can’t continue that trend. I tipped him at 8/1 when he came 2nd in a monster Curragh handicap LTO, and at one point I thought he was going to get there. But he didn’t get a clear passage through that day and has only been put up 4lbs for that effort. He is unexposed as this is only his 4th start, so the 4lb rise could prove lenient, as I think he may well improve enough to take this 18-runner handicap.

Selection: Sikandarabad (IWAC)

Odds: 6/1 (Most places, a few are at 11/2)



St Leger Day 3 Tips

1.55 – Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes (Group 3) – 7f

This should really revolve around the 2 highest rated fillies, Nemoralia (pictured) and Lumiere. There is no doubting the pair are better than this race, and it’s hard to see the race being won by any of the others. Starting with Lumiere, she was a very convincing winner in a Listed race on her penultimate start, and on that form would go very close. However, her other 2 runs this season have been poor, firstly in the 1000 Guineas where she came last, and most recently finishing 9th of 10 in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville at the end of July, which was won by the very impressive Qemah, who looks to have a great chance in the Matron Stakes on Saturday. On the other hand, Nemoralia has won 2 of her 4 starts this season, winning both a Listed race at York in May, before winning a Group 3 at York’s Ebor festival just 2 weeks ago. She proved she is a top class Group 1 filly with her 2nd to Qemah at Royal Ascot in the Coronation Stakes, where she didn’t get her ground. On good ground, she is certainly the one to beat.

Selection: Nemoralia (NAP)

Odds: 5/6 (Betfred, Paddy Power, Betfair, Betway)


2.30 – Pepsi Max Flying Childers Stakes (Group 2) – 5f

This looks a nice renewal of this Group 2, and you can make a case for arguably all but the bottom 3 in the market. I’ll start with Yalta. This colt looked a good prospect heading to Royal Ascot, but didn’t run to his full potential finishing 8th in the Coventry, won Caravaggio, albeit a very strong Coventry. However he was a very impressive winner of the Molecomb 2 starts ago, where he beat stablemate The Last Lion (who also runs here) by 3 lengths, and I don’t see The Last Lion reversing that form. The Nunthorpe always looked too big a task, and that proved to be the case with him coming home in last. Afandem looks to be in with a chance for Hugo Palmer, with a tidy success in the Prix d’Arenberg at Chantilly last week. Palmer says he’s not done anything with him since then, and couldn’t be happier with how he is. This is obviously tougher, but he cannot be discounted. However Tis Marvellous for Clive Cox and Adam Kirby looks the one to beat. He won his maiden by 8 lengths from Silent Assassin, who went on to score in his second start. On his next start, Tis Marvellous won the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte, beating the likes of Al Johrah and Prince Of Lir. A reproduction of that form should be enough to come out on top here. Yes, he finished last on his last start at Deauville, but he paid the price for trying to go with the electric pace of the outstanding Lady Aurelia, so a line can be drawn through that.

Selection: Tis Marvellous (NB)

Odds: 11/4 (General)


3.05 – Ladbrokes Mallard Stakes (Handicap) – 1m 6f 132y

Another race where plenty can be given chances, but I am going to focus on the top 2 in the market. Heading the betting is Wall of Fire for Hugo Palmer. This Canford Cliffs colt has won 3 of his 6 starts over turf, including a career best LTO when stepped up to 1m 6f to win a good 3yo handicap at York. He has been raised 8lbs for that effort, but trainer Hugo Palmer thinks that is fair, as he expects another good deal of improvement. Jo Gordon takes 3lbs off that, so the weight shouldn’t be too much of a problem. He was strong at the finish at York so the small step up in distance is not an issue, and with his progressive profile can take this. The other horse to focus on is Fabricate, who is owned by The Queen, and Ryan Moore takes the ride. This 4yo gelding has run just the 3 times this campaign, producing a solid effort each time. His most recent run was when 3rd to Muntahaa just under 2 weeks ago at Chester, so it will be interesting to see how he goes as an indicator of how strong the Muntahaa form is for the Leger, although I really don’t see anything getting the better of Idaho.

Selection: Wall of Fire

Odds: 4/1 (Bet365, BetVictor, William Hill)


3.40 – 250th Doncaster Cup (Group 2) – 2m 2f

This looks an open renewal, especially after the news late last night that the Gold Cup 2nd Mizzou does not run. I’d be surprised if any of Clever Cookie, Curbyourenthusiasm, Burmese or Sweet Selection come out on top, so I’ll focus on the other 4. An interesting runner is St Michel for Sir Mark Prescott. His form reads 42121211 this season, however they were all handicaps and is making a big step up into Group 2 company off a mark of 99. However progressive he may be, I don’t think he’ll be good enough to take the spoils here. Next up is Sheikhzayedroad, who has to be of interest to anyone who was in the Mizzou camp, as he was 3rd behind Order of St George and Mizzou in the Gold Cup, albeit 2 1/4 lengths down on Mizzou, but he did badly. He followed that up with a 3rd in the Goodwood Cup LTO behind Big Orange and Pallasator, and a repeat of those 2 performances should see this consistent 7yo go close. The favourite is now Quest For More after Mizzou’s withdrawal, who won the Lonsdale Cup at York on his last start. Despite that being strong form, he was given a very soft lead and surely that will not be the case today. Lastly, we have Clondaw Warrior for Willie Mullins. He was 2nd in this last year, and is clearly in good nick after winning the Galway Hurdle in July. He followed up with a 2nd place finish in the American St Leger to Da Big Hoss, and whilst it would be nice for Willie to get a big winner on the flat, I fear he may have to settle for 2nd or 3rd.

Selection: Sheikhzayedroad (E/W)

Odds: 15/2 (BetBright)


4.15 – Weatherbys Stallion Book Flying Scotsman Stakes (Listed) – 7f

This looks the trickiest race of the day from a punting point of view, with no less than 5 of the 7 runners defending an unbeaten record, so I will focus on those, although I would not completely write off the Frankel colt Majoris. It’s not easy to split the other 5, but I’ll start with the favourite, Taamol for Sir Michael Stoute. This colt was very green on debut at Newmarket, when he hung badly left, but overcame that to get home in front and looks to have a good chance if he manages to settle. Next up is Salsabeel for Godolphin. He has also had just the one race, making a winning debut at Yarmouth. He also ran green, but managed to beat a pair of subsequent winners. Charlie Appleby’s yard are not in the best of form recently, with just a 9% strike rate in the last fortnight, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue here, although others are preferred. One of those I prefer is Larchmont Lad. He was impressive on debut, winning by 3 1/4 lengths, and the form of that has been boosted by both Maths Prize, who has gone on to score twice, and Plant Pot Power, who has won a Newmarket nursery. I fancy him to go very close here. Next up is another Frankel colt in Senator. He is unbeaten in both of his starts to date. This is clearly much tougher than those wins, but the step up to 7f should suit, and is not without a chance here. Finally, we have Rodaini for Simon Crisford. He is 3-3 to date, and has been sent off an odds-on favourite on all 3 starts. However, he has only faced a combined 3 rivals on his last 2 starts, so it’s difficult to tell just how good the form is.

Selection: Larchmont Lad (E/W)

Odds: 6/1 (General)


4.50 – Still In The Running-FM Outsource Classified Stakes – 1m 2f 60y

Another that doesn’t look the easiest for us punters, but I’m going to focus on Khairaat, Indulged and Winterval. I’ll start with Winterval. He has only raced once this season back in May, where he finished 2nd to a 5-time winner this campaign in Ice Slice. However, it is a concern that he has had a 126-day layoff since, and although Roger Varian’s stable has been in good nick of late, I think he may need the run but could be one to look out for on his next start. Tom Queally rides Indulged for James Fanshawe, and was 6th in a decent looking Goodwood handicap behind Poet’s Word, who was 2nd in a Class 2 handicap here yesterday. However preference here goes to Khairaat, who ran out an easy winner of his Pomtefract maiden last time out at 1m, and the step up in trip should certainly suit, and he is a worthy favourite here.

Selection: Khairaat

Odds: 6/4 (BoyleSports, Stan James)


5.25 – Coopers Marquee Handicap – 6f 110y

A decent looking race with a couple down in class.  I’ll start with the one with the highest price this time in Shore Step, who won a 6f handicap here in 2014, and won this race last year, so course form is strong. He has had a light campaign to date, is on a decent mark and looks to coming back into some sort of form. Silvestre de Sousa is in the saddle, who is desperate to keep the winners flowing in terms of the jockey’s championship, so Shore Step could go close here. The favourite here is Nuno Tristan. He has improved markedly for his new stable this year, with his best performance being his 3rd in the Stewards Sprint at Glorious Goodwood. At the prices though, I prefer Shore Step.

Selection: Shore Step (E/W) (IWAC)

Odds: 8/1 (General)