Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 25 November 2017

Almanzor produces Champion show

Christophe Soumillon celebrates aboard Almanzor at Leopardstown
Christophe Soumillon celebrates aboard Almanzor at Leopardstown

Johnny Ward

A bumper crowd on a balmy evening saw French raider Almanzor show a devastating turn of foot to edge a Champion Stakes of the ages at Leopardstown.

A very rare runner in Ireland for Jean-Claude Rouget, the son of little-heralded Wootton Bassett had Found to aim at in the closing furlong and, though last year's runner-up rallied gamely under substitute rider Frankie Dettori, the French Derby winner had too much class. Minding ran a brave race in third.

It was typical Christophe Soumillon on the winner: confidence and patience, though he had the steed to get him there. "I said to Cristophe after Qemah [was beaten in the Matron]: relax, relax," said Rouget. "Christophe now tells me it was quite an easy race for the horse, so we must think of the Arc at Chantilly," a race for which Almanzor is now favourite.

Harzand, sent off market leader, was one of the first beaten but should have another day.

Alice Springs looked subservient to Qemah in their clashes this term but the burst of last-to-first pace she showed in slamming that foe and the rest in the Matron was outstanding. A trip to the Breeders' Cup now looks a certainty after a fine performance under Ryan Moore. "She loves fast ground and she's very quick," said Aidan O'Brien. "You'd have to think Santa Anita is made for her."

Awtaad was a popular winner of the Boomerang Stakes. "He had a bit of a dip [in form] when he came back from Royal Ascot but he is back to himself and I plan to go back to that course next with him for the Queen Elizabeth II," veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast said.

Tony Martin has had a trying year, losing the patronage of Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown, but he proved his prowess by saddling the first, second and fifth in what would have been considered an exceptionally competitive Petingo Handicap. "That was a thrill," said 19-year-old Donegal rider Oisin Orr.

Zhukova slammed hot favourite US Army Ranger in the Enterprise Stakes, while soon-to-be-retired David Wachman saddled 50/1 winner Rain Goddess in the opener.

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