Free Eagle to skip York clash with Classic heroes
Dermot Weld has confirmed that Free Eagle is being aimed at the Irish Champion Stakes and will not join Gleneagles and Golden Horn in next week's Juddmonte International.
Weld's brilliant Prince Of Wales's Stakes winner is still in Wednesday's York Group One. However, Free Eagle heads the ante-post betting at 5/2 for Leopardstown's Qipco-sponsored event on September 12, and that remains his most likely target ahead of tilt at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
"It's pretty certain that he won't run at York and that he will wait for the Irish Champion Stakes," the Rosewell House wizard said. "We'll take it one day at a time and think about the Arc afterwards. I'm very happy with him."
With Free Eagle all but ruled out, Pat Smullen has been booked to ride Roger Charlton's Ascot winner Time Test in the race. "I won't have any runners there early in the week," Weld added. "I have Good Tradition in the Ebor. With 8st 10lb, he is unlikely to get in, but, if he did, he would be a definite runner."
Like Free Eagle, Good Tradition is owned by Moyglare Stud. He is number 40 on the Ebor list, with just 20 horses guaranteed a run in the prestigious mile-and-six-furlong handicap. The four-year-old is a 20/1 shot to secure Weld a first Ebor win, with Willie Mullins's prolific Clondaw Warrior the 10/1 ante-post favourite.
On Saturday, Smullen will partner Weld's Carla Bianca in the Beverley D Stakes at Arlington Park. A 13/2 shot for the 10-furlong Grade One behind Ballydoyle's Wedding Vow (13/8) and last year's Marco Botti-trained winner Euro Charline (5/1), Carla Bianca was last seen beating the "Million" bound Elleval at Leopardstown on July 16.
"The Beverley D is a race that should suit Carla Bianca," suggested Weld of a contest that came this way via John Oxx's Timarida in 1996. "She is very well and I expect a good run from her - everything should be right for her. Euro Charline is the obvious danger."
The Curragh handler also had an update on Forgotten Rules and Mustajeeb, respective rising stars of the staying and sprinting ranks. Both ran well in defeat when fancied at Royal Ascot, while Forgotten Rules was then beaten at odds-on when turning out at the Curragh 10 days later.
"Forgotten Rules and Mustajeeb are both well," he declared. "We will look at the Irish St Leger for Forgotten Rules. That would more than likely be his next start. We'll see what the ground is like, and, if he doesn't go to the Curragh, we will wait for the race that he won last year at Ascot in October.
"Mustajeeb is in good order. We'll look at the Sprint Cup at Haydock, or we could wait for the Prix de la Foret. I'm delighted with him but nothing has been confirmed as to where he will go yet." A flying start to the campaign saw Weld establish an early lead in the trainers' championship. Prior to last night's racing, Aidan O'Brien had regained a €678,855 advantage. While acknowledging that a win for Free Eagle in the Irish Champion Stakes, which boasts a first prize of almost €650,000 would narrow the gap, Weld is adamant that a title shot is not occupying his thoughts.
"It hasn't even entered my head," the eight-time holder said of an accolade he last won in 1998. "There are a lot of other good races that Aidan can win every weekend. I am very happy with the way the year has gone."
Eddie Lynam has revealed that Frankie Dettori will take over from the retired Richard Hughes aboard two-time winner Sole Power in next week's Nunthorpe, while Patrick Griffin and John 'Shark' Hanlon made successful raids on Newton Abbot yesterday with Lisbon (15/8 fav) and Down Time (7/1).