Wednesday 22 November 2017

Golden Horn survives late swerve to claim Champion crown

Trainer Aidan O'Brien
Trainer Aidan O'Brien Newsdesk Newsdesk

Golden Horn kept the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown after a dramatic finish to the Group One showpiece. John Gosden's Derby winner veered across from the far rail inside the final furlong, bumping into Free Eagle who was making a strong challenge and was almost upsides.

There was no time for Free Eagle to regain his momentum and Golden Horn, the 5-4 favourite, came home in front after making most of the running under Frankie Dettori.

Found ran on to grab second place, just ahead of the Dermot Weld-trained Free Eagle. As expected, a stewards' inquiry was immediately called, but following some deliberation the placings remained unaltered.

Golden Horn was returning to winning ways after losing his unbeaten record in a shock defeat to Arabian Queen in the Juddmonte International at York last month.

"We got our tactics wrong at York," said Gosden. "I thought the filly was magnificent, but we laid far too far back. I left it to the jockey and he's gone to the other extreme again. He's gone from the front, he's a very good horse.

"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 point. It caught him and he ran right across the shadow of the grandstand. The sun was out. They should probably have run the race later when there was no sun," (a reference to the race being brought forward in quest for best ground)!

"He's done it well. He's handled slower ground, good to soft. Free Eagle was pushed out a bit and finished third. He's a top-class horse and we messed one race up, we nearly messed up another with the shadows.

"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. He stays well. We'd like to go there, but we don't want a monsoon in Paris."

Meanwhile, Andrea Atzeni was denied back-to-back St Legers by the Doncaster stewards after Simple Verse was disqualified and placed second behind Bondi Beach.

Supplemented at a cost of £50,000 on Monday, Simple Verse (8-1) was aiming to become the first filly to beat the boys in the Classic since User Friendly in 1992.

History appeared to have been made when Ralph Beckett's three-year-old crossed the line a head in front of Aidan O'Brien's Bondi Beach (2-1 joint-favourite), but the claxon was sounded due to two incidents of interference inside the final quarter-mile. Colm O'Donoghue and Atzeni both presented their case in the stewards' room and after a lengthy discussion the placings were reversed, to the displeasure of some in the crowd.

When the winning connections were presented with the famous old trophy and O'Donoghue the Leger cap, boos and the odd shout were ringing out.

Immediately after the result was revised, Beckett announced his intention to appeal the decision.

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