Gleneagles in mix to lead Irish Ascot tilt
A potent 14-strong Irish assault could descend on British Champions Day should Gleneagles take his place in tomorrow's Qipco QE II Stakes.
Aidan O'Brien's dual Classic winner is one of nine declarations for the one-mile Group One. He is drawn in stall one for a £1.1m contest taking place on the straight mile and Ryan Moore is booked to steer, with O'Brien expected to walk the track this evening.
If he deems conditions too soft, as has been the case ahead of Gleneagles' four other targets since his St James's Palace Stakes victory at Royal Ascot, the intention is to gallop the colt on the all-weather at Southwell in preparation for a Breeders' Cup Classic date with the US Triple Crown sensation American Pharoah.
Freddy Head's Solow will vie for a fifth win in a row at the highest level in the QE II. Andre Fabre's Prix Jean Prat winner Territories is another French hopeful among the final declarations, after which Gleneagles' odds were trimmed to around 2/1.
O'Brien will vie for a belated first Champion Stakes win with Found, while he and Moore will combine with Tapestry in the Fillies and Mares' Group One. Dermot Weld's Fascinating Rock is also in the £1.3m Champion, for which John Gosden's Irish Derby victor Jack Hobbs - drawn in stall 12 of 13 - is 5/4 market leader.
There is a quartet of Irish raiders in the Group One Sprint, with Tom Hogan's Gordon Lord Byron and Evanna McCutcheon's Maarek, both of which landed the six-furlong contest as a Group Two, set to be joined by Tommy Stack's Great Minds and Eddie Lynam's Gathering Power.
Weld's out-of-sorts Forgotten Rules will vie to retain the Group Two Stayers' crown under Pat Smullen. Also on duty in the two-miler is a Willie Mullins' trio of Clondaw Warrior, Simenon and Wicklow Brave.
Moore will partner Wicklow Brave, with William Buick pencilled in for Simenon and Victor Cheminaud on Clondaw Warrior. One of the showpiece event's more notable absentees from the final declarations was Cirrus Des Aigles, which is to step up in trip for the Prix Royal Oak rather than contest the Champion Stakes, which he won in 2011, for a fifth time.
Meanwhile, Paul Townend has lodged an appeal against the 10-day dangerous riding ban he received at Tramore last week. Townend was adjudged to have committed the infringement aboard Vermout Fougeray when colliding with the eventual winner Conduct Yourself in the maiden hurdle, a finding that saw his mount disqualified from second.
Trainer Tom McCourt is also appealing the decision of the Curragh stewards to demote Clear Focus to second in a on Tuesday. Clear Focus passed the post half a length ahead of David Marnane's Oliveraie, but was deemed to have improved his position by hampering Pat Smullen's mount.
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