Wednesday 22 November 2017

Golden Horn proves Champion, but after a scare

John Gosden looks on at Leopardstown racecourse
John Gosden looks on at Leopardstown racecourse

Thomas Kelly

the finish might not have been as dramatic as the St Leger in Doncaster but Leopardstown's Qipco Irish Champion Stakes was not without controversy either as Golden Horn returned to winning ways after his York defeat.

Having virtually made all the running in the hands of Frankie Dettori, John Gosden's star three-year-old gave Dermot Weld's Free Eagle a sizeable knock, apparently distracted by the shadow of the stand across the track. However, his fate was helped by the fact the Aidan O'Brien's filly Found ran on strongly past Pat Smullen and Free Eagle to take second.

"The shadow of the grandstand caught him (when he jinked to his right). There was a photographer standing there and didn't know how marked it was at that exact point," said Gosden.

"I think the fact that Free Eagle was third is a great help to us. I'm glad I know why he did it because he's never done anything like that before.

"This is a great race and it's a perfect three weeks into the Arc, where we'd love to go."

Afterwards, a philosophical Smullen reasoned: "It would have been nice to have had a clean shot at him, but it wasn't to be and we live to fight another day.

"It took my momentum away and brought him to a standstill, but the other side of that is the horse in front was doing nothing."

Legatissimo collected her third Group One prize of the campaign with an emphatic performance in the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes.

French raider Cladocera plugged on gamely but could never get near the winner, who was two and a quarter lengths up at the line.

Ainippe was third, while David O'Meara's Amazing Maria, a dual Group One scorer this term, did not settle and was well beaten.

Trainer David Wachman said: "She seems to be getting fresh between her races. She hadn't run in about six weeks and we'll try to give her another six weeks and head to the Breeders' Cup."

O'Meara' Custom Cut led home a clean sweep for the raiders in the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes.

The admirable six-year-old made smooth headway under Danny Tudhope to lead early in the straight and gallop on strongly to score from Top Notch Tonto with Lightning Spear in third.

"It was a great performance. He's a tough little horse. He came here and won a Desmond Stakes last year. This race cut up and it was a small field," said O'Meara's assistant, Jason Kelly.

Fascinating Rock gave Weld and Smullen back-to-back victories in the KPMG Enterprise Stakes with a convincing victory in the Group Three heat over a mile and a half.

One-time Classic hope John F Kennedy tried to make all but had no answer to the turn of foot shown by Fascinating Rock.

Panama Hat put in good work to take second ahead of John F Kennedy, but the winner had flown and was several lengths to the good.

"He's a class horse. He ran some excellent races in the spring and had a lovely summer break - maybe too good!" said Weld. "We tried a mile and a half today and I thought he got it very well, so it opens up so many options for him.

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