Sunday 11 December 2016

Free Eagle camp to consider Ascot as alternative to Arc

Thomas Kelly

Published 15/09/2015 | 02:30

Connections of Free Eagle (centre) are keen to let the dust settle on his controversial defeat in Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes before committing to future targets.
Connections of Free Eagle (centre) are keen to let the dust settle on his controversial defeat in Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes before committing to future targets.

Connections of Free Eagle are keen to let the dust settle on his controversial defeat in Saturday's Irish Champion Stakes before committing to future targets.

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The lightly-raced four-year-old was badly bumped in the closing stages of the Leopardstown showpiece after Golden Horn jinked to his right.

Found eventually relegated Free Eagle to third and the placings remained unaltered after a stewards' inquiry, leaving trainer Dermot Weld and owners Moyglare Stud to reflect on what might have been.

Moyglare's breeding advisor Fiona Craig said: "We obviously have mixed emotions. He ran a very good race, giving 7lb to a champion and a Derby winner in Golden Horn, but it was desperately disappointing at the time.

"Who knows whether the result would have been different? What we do know is our horse wouldn't have gone down without a fight.

"He was trained for the race, he was coming with his challenge and was knocked sideways. It's just so disappointing he didn't get the chance to fight out the finish."

The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe has been Free Eagle's end-of-season target for a while, but Craig hinted there could be a rethink in light of wonder-mare Treve's dazzling display in Sunday's Prix Vermeille.

"He's come out of the race fine and in one piece, and we'll have to figure out where we go next," she said.

Immovable

"The Arc has always been the plan, but there looks to be a pretty immovable object there in the form of Treve. She was brilliant on Sunday and looks to be getting better, which is a pretty scary thought for anyone thinking of taking her on.

"Free Eagle was a tired horse after the race as he had a hard race, so we'll just let him tell us when he's ready to go again. There's also Ascot, and the Breeders' Cup has been mentioned as an option, but there haven't been any serious discussions yet."

As for Golden Horn, owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer is not ruling out the possibility of Golden Horn running twice more before the end of the season.

The Derby hero's Leopardstown success has put him in line for a potentially mouthwatering clash with Treve in the Arc.

However, ground conditions dictate whether Golden Horn makes the trip to Paris, with the Champion Stakes at Ascot and the Breeders' Cup Turf also under possibilities.

"There are three possible races for him and I think we have to have decent ground," explained Oppenheimer. "We can't really give others the advantage. We might get good ground for the Arc, or maybe at Ascot or there is Kentucky to consider.

Elsewhere, connections of Simple Verse will have to wait until next week to find out their fate in an appeal against the decision to demote the filly from first place in the Doncaster St Leger after the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) put back a hearing scheduled for Thursday.

The BHA tweeted: "CORRECTION: Due to issues with availability of participants' counsel, the St Leger appeal will now NOT be held this Thursday."

Irish Independent

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