Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 23 June 2018

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Decorated Knight upsets Churchill in Irish Champion thriller

Decorated Knight ridden by Andrea Atzeni wins the The QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes during day one of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown Racecourse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 9, 2017. See PA story RACING Leopardstown. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Decorated Knight ridden by Andrea Atzeni wins the The QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes during day one of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown Racecourse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 9, 2017. See PA story RACING Leopardstown. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Press Association

Decorated Knight grabbed a second Group One in Ireland in 2017 when causing a 25-1 upset in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Roger Charlton's five-year-old had been beaten three times since lifting the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May, but bounced back in spectacular fashion in the mile-and-a-quarter showpiece.

Andrea Atzeni held him up in last place in the early stages, as Eminent set the pace from Success Days, with 8-11 favourite Churchill close up.

Eminent and Frankie Dettori still led until the final furlong, but he was being attacked on all sides and finally gave way.

Moonlight Magic threatened briefly, while dual 2000 Guineas winner Churchill was a little tight for room on the rail.

The wide outside was the place to make a challenge and Decorated Knight made a decisive swoop, with Poet's Word also putting in a strong bid but ultimately having to settle for second. Eminent was third.

Atzeni said: "He had a bad draw and we thought the ground would be too soft, we didn't know whether to run him or not but it's actually nice ground out there.

"It's great for the owners and obviously Mr Charlton has done a great job with him."

Charlton said: "Andrea said he knew he was going to win turning in. I couldn't believe it.

"He's tough, consistent and very sound. He's produced an amazing turn of foot and ran right to the line. There was nothing flukey about it.

"He's been a bit unlucky in his last couple of races. He hated the ground at York, got bashed about at Sandown in the Eclipse and ran a great race at Royal Ascot.

"He's been on the go since March and he's improved and improved. To keep going all season is a tribute to the horse.

"I was half-thinking that this might be his last race. I guess we will now look at the Champion Stakes in Ascot."

He added: "Ireland has been very lucky for me with three Tattersalls Gold Cups, a Pretty Polly and now this."

Decorated Knight was cut to 8-1 from 25-1 for the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 21 with Ladbrokes and Betfair.

Press Association

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