No shame in Golden Horn's York defeat, insists Gosden
John Gosden has stressed that he doesn't feel Golden Horn would be unsuited by slow ground should conditions at Leopardstown ease ahead of the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes.
Beaten for a first time when thwarted by 50/1 shot Arabian Queen in the Juddmonte International at York, Golden Horn is a 2/1 market leader to regain the winning thread in the €1.1m Group One tomorrow week. Although no official going has been published, ground conditions at the Foxrock track are understood to be good and the weather forecast is quite settled.
Dry ground could ensure a clash with Aidan O'Brien's brilliant miler Gleneagles and foil a rematch with Arabian Queen, but Gosden, who runs his Irish Derby victor Jack Hobbs on the all-weather at Kempton tomorrow, is relaxed about conditions ahead of the 10-furlong showpiece.
"He's quite capable of racing on an easier surface," the Newmarket genius stressed of the Derby and Eclipse hero.
"He just doesn't want ground that's gone very dead. I'd just like to see good, or good to soft ground, that'll be fine. Leopardstown does drain very well - it's a good track from that point of view. He's in good order. It looks an exciting contest and we've been lucky enough to win it before and been second in it. It's a wonderful race and Leopardstown is a very, very nice racecourse."
Reflecting on the York reversal, Gosden commented: "A lot of good horses get beaten. Nijinsky and Secretariat were beaten. The two finest stallions in Europe right now, Dubawi and Galileo, both tasted defeat; as Noel Murless said, if you run them enough they will get beaten. Look at the Travers on Saturday night with American Pharoah - there was no shame in it."
Arabian Queen's owner Jeff Smith stressed that his filly would need rain to re-oppose, with a clash with Treve in the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp a day later the natural alternative. Dermot Weld has declared himself happy with Free Eagle (11/4) ahead of the Leopardstown event, which he suggests "could probably be the best race run in the world this year". "We've got to be at our very best to hope to win," the Curragh maestro added.
Intriguingly, American Pharoah could also soon get a chance to atone for his shock defeat at Saratoga.
Bob Baffert's sensational Triple Crown victor looked a tired imitation of his usual indomitable self in going down to Keen Ice. Nonetheless, his owner Ahmed Zayat has announced that he intends to run him again, with a clash with Gleneagles in the Breeders' Cup Classic on October 31 a tantalising prospect.
"I am very confident in my decision," Zayat said. "He has come out of the race in great shape. I believe there were a combination of factors that prevented American Pharoah from running his absolute best. I have every confidence that he can run to his best again and he deserves the chance to do so."
In tomorrow's Sprint Cup at Haydock, Chris Hayes will partner Eddie Lynam's Sole Power for a first time, with Wayne Lordan set to steer Tom Hogan's 2013 hero Gordon Lord Byron and Joseph O'Brien on Due Diligence for his father Aidan. Jim Bolger, meanwhile, has revealed that his luckless 1,000 Guineas runner-up Lucida has been retired due to injury.