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)