Monday 23 April 2018

Churchill can thwart Eminent danger

Disappointing renewal can go the way of dual Guineas winner

Reverend Jacobs (left), with Ryan Moore up, gets the better of Hang Man to win The Garden For All Seasons Maiden Stakes at Ascot. Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Reverend Jacobs (left), with Ryan Moore up, gets the better of Hang Man to win The Garden For All Seasons Maiden Stakes at Ascot. Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Johnny Ward

There is a photo of him in the centre of what seems hundreds of people at Pearse Stadium this week, the hordes pining for his signature: 'G McInerney'.

One wonders what son Gearoid made of it all as Gerry, an icon of Galway hurling from the '80s, gave autographs at the charity match midweek. It brought to mind that Frankel may be the prince but Galileo, his dad, is still king.

Today, in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes, Churchill - son of Galileo - and Eminent - son of Frankel - dominate the discourse. Aidan O'Brien could have gone some way further to ensuring a win for Galileo in the race by declaring Winter, but instead relies chiefly on Cliffs Of Moher - yet another son of the great sire - as Churchill's back-up.

Seven successes this century for O'Brien can become eight, as Churchill, the dual Guineas winner, should have just enough to hold off Eminent.

There was no getting away from the trainer's comments on Thursday that the horse would improve from the Juddmonte International at York, when he was a game if well-held second to Ulysses.

It is the absence of Ulysses, Barney Roy and the first three from last year's race (all retired) that makes this event seem a tad underwhelming, but it does have the Derby runner-up in Cliffs Of Moher. Eminent, perhaps best at today's trip, was a close fourth in the Derby and is a major player here under Frankie Dettori.

O'Brien's comments about Winter - that she will come on for the outing today with a late-season campaign in mind - should be taken on board by those going heavy in the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes.

Even so, this brilliant grey should have a little too much class to take care of Qemah, a hot favourite in this 12 months ago.

Winter has three stablemates among the dozen runners, the teak-tough Roly Poly set to give another good account. Rhododendron likely needs the outing now under Padraig Beggy.

Sir John Lavery, a third selection sired by Galileo, makes plenty of appeal in the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes. He was a revelation back over a mile at Cork, showing a superb turn of pace, and he looks ready to take care of the raider Suedois, which has a rating of 112 and solid handicap form.

Perhaps Frankel can kick off the day in triumph, as Lightening Quick is notable on pedigree, also being out of Lightening Pearl, which remains Ger Lyons's only Group One winner. This is a precocious filly on paper.

The step-up to a mile should suit Theobald in the Willis Towers Watson Champions Juvenile Stakes, but preference is for course winner Delano Roosevelt, the mount of Ryan Moore. The O'Brien team may struggle to cope with Dermot Weld's Eziyra in the KPMG Enterprise Stakes.

Ruby Walsh's return to Flat riding aboard top weight Renneti in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF 'Petingo' Handicap adds further intrigue to one of the great racing days of the year. Emmet Mullins's St Stephens Green is preferred and is better than the form he showed in winning at Tramore.

Combat concludes with the Irish Stallion Farms EBF 'Sovereign Path' Handicap. The class of Glastonbury Song may be key here and Lyons's runner has a nice draw for Colin Keane.

Watching brief...

With the exchange rate as it is right now, Listowel's Guinness Kerry National on Wednesday will be run for a pot of more than £160,000 if you are a British trainer. As a somewhat crude but suitable example, the Tolworth Hurdle won by Colin Tizzard's Finian's Oscar in January - a Grade One - was worth fewer than £26,000 to the winner. This came to mind when Willie Mullins spoke about Coneygree, the star attraction in the feature event next week.

"The exchange rate is making these Irish races all the more of an incentive for the English runners," said Mullins. And by contrast, the opposite may be the case for Irish jumpers crossing the water.

The word is that Leopardstown will launch its exciting January Jumps festival on September 25, and one of the hopes the organisers have for it is that British runners will come over.

Some of the brightest minds in the financial sector are forecasting parity between euro and sterling next year and this could have profound effects on the strength of racing here - for the better, though Mullins may disagree!

Irish Independent

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