Thursday 14 December 2017

Churchill to show he is the premier miler in Sussex showdown

Ryan Moore will be hoping to partner Churchill to another success today. Photo: Sportsfile
Ryan Moore will be hoping to partner Churchill to another success today. Photo: Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

Churchill attempts to bounce back from his lacklustre Royal Ascot performance today when he tackles his elders for the first time in a highly-anticipated Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

Aidan O'Brien's son of Galileo won the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket before following up in the Irish version.

Churchill looked rock-solid until his run of seven victories, four at the highest level, came to an abrupt end at Ascot when he was beaten by more than four lengths by Richard Hannon's Barney Roy - a colt he had pushed into fourth in the Guineas.

There was no outstanding reason for that failure, although the hot day may have played its part. "He seems to be fine. Nothing came to light and it could have been the heat. That's racing, they don't always perform," said O'Brien.

"His work has been good. Everything at home has always been good with him. We have been happy since Ascot and we are looking forward to running him again.

"We take it each race as it comes and all these races are competitive at this level. He is well balanced and is a big, powerful, strong horse so the track should be fine."

Richard Fahey's Ribchester has laid claim to being the best older miler in training this season with comprehensive wins in the Lockinge at Newbury and the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot.

Fahey is adamant that his stable stable star will have to be at his very best, saying: "Everything has gone well since Ascot and we feel he's getting stronger and better, but he'll need to be."

His rider William Buick said: "Ribchester has yet to take on the three-year-olds this year and we go there with plenty of respect for Churchill. His defeat in the St James's Palace seemed a big shock to his team and you only have to go back to Newmarket to see what he is capable of doing.

"A dual 2000 Guineas winner? You don't take them lightly and I certainly don't underestimate him. He gets the weight and he's a big horse, a strong horse.

"The weight concession is massively in their favour and from this time of the year onwards they are maturing all the time."

While singing the praises of his chief rival, Buick is hoping to add another leg of the Qipco British Champions Series on his old ally.

"He's improved in every department since I first rode him, both mentally and physically," he said. "He used to be a bit immature, very energetic, and it was hard to channel it in the right direction all the time. Now he's really matured and he has turned into a top-class horse.

"He has got the highest cruising speed of any horse I've ridden and he can quicken off it as well, which is a great asset for a miler."

But, if Churchill can rediscover his Guineas form, then he can bounce back in the same manner that his namesake did from Dunkirk.

The three quickest horses in the Bombay Sapphire Molecomb Stakes (3.0) are Happy Like A Fool, Havana Grey and Sound And Silence but, on the face of it, they all want quick ground.

Paul Cole's May Remain, a long-priced course-and-distance winner, might not be the worst each-way bet of all time.

Three Duchesses (4.45) arrives on the back of two wide-margin wins and can provide apprentice David Egan either with his first taste of success at Glorious Goodwood or the sense of frustration you often get riding a hold-up horse in a big field here. (© The Daily Telegraph, London)

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