A small but select international field assembles for the 1m2f Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes on Saturday (4.10pm Leopardstown).
It is a race well worthy of a preview with the six runners headed by odds-on favourite Ghaiyyath, ridden by William Buick and officially rated the best Flat horse in the world after winning three Group 1 races this season. Godolphin’s son of Dubawi has won the Coronation Cup at Newmarket, Eclipse Stakes at Sandown and Juddmonte International at York by a combined margin of seven and three quarter lengths. He was three lengths ahead of Magical at the line at York. The going, which is good, and distance should not be issues so there is no reason why Ghaiyyath, on the same weight terms as at York, will not confirm the form with Magical in the Irish Champion Stakes.
Magical would be the favourite in most years but Ghaiyyath has raised the bar in terms of ratings and Group 1 form. The Aidan O’Brien mare has a few pounds to fine with the favourite. Magical won the race last year and the last back-to-back winner was Dylan Thomas in 2006 and 2007, also trained by O’Brien. Magical also won the British Champion Stakes at Ascot last October but the quality of the field was not at the same level of the Irish version this weekend. She has the rating to make the frame but beating Ghaiyyath looks a tall oder.
Trainer Jean Claude-Rouget’s Sottsass makes the trip from France. There is nothing in the horse’s form to suggest besting the favourite is feasible. The Irish Champion Stakes offers a lucrative Group 1 prize but this could be something of a prep race for the Arc at Longchamp on October 4th. The son of Siyouni finished third in Paris last season and the winner, Waldgeist, has retired while Enable is now aged six. Sottsass has won five races from 10 starts but has never raced outside France. The colt won the Group 1 Prix Ganay in June so is a worthy contender in the Irish Champion Stakes but that might only be for second place behind Ghaiyyath.
Japan did not produce his best form when fourth behind Lord North at Royal Ascot. The colt was beaten by five and a half lengths and the relative weights are the same in the Irish Champion Stakes. That run could be upgraded because Japan was slowly away and did not have the pace to get involved in the business end of the race. The Aidan O’Brien trained four-year-old won the Juddmonte International last season. That run earned the horse an OR of 117 but Ghaiyyath ran to a figure of 127 in the corresponding race in August.
Japan was almost tailed off behind Enable in a non-event of a three-runner race for the King George at Ascot last time and apparently the stone bruise that he suffered there is behind him. Japan has finished in the first four in three Group 1 races over the summer without winning and that looks like again being the outcome.
As for the others, Armory and Leo De Fury will be competing for fifth place because they are both well behind the other horses on form in the six-runner field.
To summarise, Magical is a true champion mare but has never raced against a horse as good as Ghaiyyath. Japan has a few pounds to find with the favourite while Sottsass has the fourth best official rating but may just be coming to himself.
It may be a boring betting tip, but this Irish Champion Stakes preview is struggling to see beyond the clear form horse GHAIYYATH. He is so much more consistent nowadays. He can win his fourth Group 1 race in four starts this season and confirm that lofty status of the best Flat horse in the sport.
- Bet GHAIYYATH who is, at the time of writing, best odds of 8/11 with Betfair.
Compare Irish Champion Stakes Betting Odds from Top Bookmakers
|Ghaiyyath (stall 3)||8/13||4/7||8/13||8/13||8/13||4/7||4/7|
|Leo De Fury (4)||100/1||80/1||80/1||100/1||100/1||100/1||66/1|