Friday 2 December 2016

John Gosden sets sights on Paris for Golden Horn after Irish Champion success

Published 12/09/2015 | 18:49

Golden Horn ridden by Frankie Dettori on their way to winning the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes
Golden Horn ridden by Frankie Dettori on their way to winning the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes

Golden Horn booked his ticket to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe after returning to winning ways in a dramatic Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown which saw him keep the race in the stewards' room.

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John Gosden's Derby and Eclipse winner veered across from the far rail inside the final furlong, bumping into Free Eagle who was making a strong challenge and was almost upsides.

There was no time for Free Eagle to regain his momentum and Golden Horn, the 5-4 favourite, came home in front after making most of the running under Frankie Dettori.

Found ran on to grab second place, just ahead of the Dermot Weld-trained Free Eagle.

As expected, a stewards' inquiry was immediately called, but following some deliberation the placings remained unaltered.

Golden Horn was getting his head back in front after losing his unbeaten record in a shock defeat to Arabian Queen in the Juddmonte International at York - a race like the Foxrock feature that had seen dual 2000 Guineas winner Gleneagles a defector following overnight rain.

Gosden said: "We got our tactics wrong at York. I thought the filly was magnificent, but we laid far too far back.

"I left it to the jockey and he's gone to the other extreme again. He's gone from the front, he's a very good horse.

"The shadow of the grandstand caught him (when he jinked to his right). There was a photographer standing there and didn't know how marked it was at that exact point.

"It caught him and he ran right across the shadow of the grandstand. The sun was out. They should probably have run the race later when there was no sun (reference to race being brought forward in quest for best ground)!

"He's done it well. He's handled slower ground, good to soft.

"Free Eagle was pushed out a bit and finished third. He's a top-class horse and we messed one race up, we nearly messed up another with the shadows.

"I think the fact that Free Eagle was third is a great help to us.

"I'm glad I know why he did it because he's never done anything like that before.

"This is a great race and it's a perfect three weeks into the Arc, where we'd love to go. He stays well and he's proved that again today.

"We'd like to go there, but we don't want a monsoon in Paris.

"He's at his best on good, good to firm ground as he's got an electric turn of foot. Today he galloped them into the ground, but he's much better off a strong pace, bursting with speed.

"Today we had no choice. There was never going to be a strong gallop.

"I knew Found was our big danger, she's come to herself and she was the one I was frightened of."

RaceBets cut the Anthony Oppenheimer-owned Golden Horn to 6-1 from 7-1 for the Arc at Longchamp on October 4.

Gosden also has Irish Derby winner Jack Hobbs for Paris, but warned: "Jack is there if it rains, if it rains a lot - if not I don't want him to get beaten by Golden Horn again, I'd like him to go for the Champion Stakes at Ascot."

Dettori said: "What a great race today. Seven Group One winners, all high standard and he did it the hard way.

"He showed the world again he's a top-class horse. He saw something by the winning post, I don't know what it was. John thinks it was a shadow, but he still won very well.

"Maybe we made a mistake at York (using a pacemaker). He wants a good tempo and he's redeemed himself today."

Oppenheimer said: "I'm very proud indeed. It was lovely for the horse to lead from start to finish.

"He jumped a shadow in the middle of the course, but otherwise it was faultless.

"I think if he hadn't jumped that he'd have won by another two lengths.

"We saw what happened in the English St Leger (Simple Verse disqualified from first place) and these things are very difficult.

"I think on better ground he'd be much better and I'm confident if we see good ground again, maybe in the Champion Stakes at Ascot or the Arc or somewhere, you'll will see what he's like."

Train Aidan O'Brien was pleased with Found's effort.

He said: "I'm delighted with the run - she ran a great race.

"She'll appreciate going up to a mile and a half. The plan was to come either here or the Vermeille and then the Arc, but we didn't want to travel with her if we didn't have to."

Pat Smullen, rider of Free Eagle, said philosophically: "It would have been nice to have had a clean shot at him, but it wasn't to be and we live to fight another day.

"It took my momentum away and brought him to a standstill, but the other side of that is the horse in front was doing nothing."

Gleneagles missed the race due to the rain-softened ground, but O'Brien gave his son of Galileo a gallop after racing, and said: "We're very pleased with him.

"He went seven furlongs with his usual work partner Siege Of Orleans. It was good for him to let off some steam."

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