Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 24 January 2017

So You Think's class can shine

Published 15/10/2011 | 05:00

Ryan Moore can atone for his Royal Ascot defeat on So You Think by delivering Aidan O'Brien his first win in today's Qipco Champion Stakes at the Berkshire venue.

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Since his arrival from Australia, So You Think has confirmed himself a distinguished operator courtesy of three Group One triumphs, but he has also seemed far more mortal than the reputation that he carried from Down Under suggested.

At Ascot in June, he had no answer to Rewilding after Moore set off in pursuit of his pacemaker too early, before a poor draw then compromised his chance in the Arc.

While you could certainly argue that his finishing position didn't do him justice on either occasion, hindsight hasn't shown any of the three top-level races that he won to have been particularly strong events. On his return to Ascot, then, the giant five-year-old still has something to prove, but he is expected to justify short odds of 9/4.

It is a massive 13/2 bar So You Think, so for each-way punters it is a question of identifying where the value lies among the remaining 11 runners. Twice Over, back-to-form and twice a winner of this already, isn't without a squeak at 8/1.

The slightly fortunate King George winner Nathaniel drops down to 10 furlongs. That John Gosden deems such a strategy worthwhile is in itself of note, but Twice Over and Dubai Prince appeal as the two that are likely to push the selection hardest.

Henry Cecil has maximised every ounce of Twice Over's potential and his Juddmonte triumph in August over stablemate Midday was his fourth in a Group One. He has since been kept under wraps specifically for this and, on a line through their regular opponent Snow Fairy, he won't finish too far away from So You Think.

Ed Dunlop's mare also turns out here after her brilliant Arc third, but this trip is on the short side for her, so the unbeaten Dubai Prince may be worth consideration at 9/1. On just its fourth start, the Godolphin runner has scope to improve, though ultimately he may not be battle-hardened enough to defy a street fighter of So You Think's ilk.

As for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, it is impossible to oppose a force of nature like Frankel. The Tom Queally-ridden sensation faces a new challenge here in Immortal Verse -- the filly that beat Goldikova and Sahpresa at Deauville in August -- but odds of 1/3 are deserved.

Of the other Irish runners on the Champions Day card, Banimpire might add to her Royal Ascot success in the mares' race. The Jim Bolger-trained three-year-old is as big as 10/1 on her return to 12 furlongs, the trip over which she won the Ribblesdale.

That price doesn't nearly reflect her standard of performance this term, with a fine third in the Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp her latest turn. Over 10 furlongs on that occasion, she wasn't helped by a modest early gallop, but kept on gamely to the line.

Prove

Jessica Harrington's Bible Belt is among Banimpire's 10 rivals today. However, like many of the other runners in this, she has yet to prove herself at this sort of level. Johnny Murtagh's Epsom Oaks-winning partner Dancing Rain has, but that one's best days have come when she got a soft lead -- she won't get that here.

In the opening staying race, Fame And Glory is another that obliged at the Royal fixture that is looking to bounce back now. Jamie Spencer's mount has been a huge disappointment since his Gold Cup rout, and it is a worry that he has not won a race after the first week in August for the past three years.

With that in mind, Opinion Poll may be the one to keep on side. Three lengths second in the Gold Cup, he went on to win the Goodwood and Lonsdale Cups under today's rider Frankie Dettori, before finishing a fair second to Saddler's Rock at Doncaster.

Irish Independent

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