Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with six to follow on Saturday at Doncaster and Leopardstown. View selections below.
Horse Racing Ireland have done a wonderful job attracting the cream of the crop to both Leopardstown and the Curragh this weekend for Longines Irish Champions Weekend, with an outstanding field of 13 going to post for the feature €1.25million Irish Champions Stakes. The race is steeped in prestige and sees both Epsom classic winners meet with Derby winner Harzand taking on Oaks winner Minding, and BetVictor make the filly 9/4 favourite to beat the boys under Ryan Moore.
Irish Champion Stakes prices from BetVictor
The six-time group one winner, and indeed dual classic winner, receives 3lb from Dermot Weld’s colt who is 3/1 with BetVictor to claim a third successive group one under regular partner Pat Smullen. Derby winners have a wonderful record dropping back in trip for this evening with previous Epsom heroes New Approach, Sea the Stars and Golden Horn doing so in recent times I expect Harzand to give Minding weight and a beating in the biggest race of flat calendar across the Irish Sea.
Minding could have continued her domination of the fillies’ division having been the ante-post favourite for the Gp 1 Matron Stakes over a mile, however trainer Aidan O’Brien opts to rely on the Falmouth Stakes winner Alice Springs who broke the track record in her group one success at Newmarket’s July Meeting.
She is respected under Ryan Moore but preference lies instead with the French raider Qemah (5.35) under Gregory Benoit. Jean-Claude Rouget’s filly had Alice Springs in behind for both of her top-flight victories this term, in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and Prix Rothschild at Deauville, and should confirm the form to complete a hat-trick of successes at the highest grade.
Idaho should take all the beating in the fifth and final classic of the season at Doncaster, with Aidan O’Brien’s son of Galileo the well-backed 8/13 favourite with BetVictor to give his trainer a fifth success on Town Moor. The Ballydoyle handler won the race in the Stewards’ room thanks to wonderful work by Seamie Heffernan 12 months ago with Bondi Beach, before losing It on appeal thereafter, and he takes the mount on the twice-classic placed colt.
For those expecting to win and win well he is 3/1 to win the race by three or more lengths however, with stamina concerns, a chance is taken instead on Andrew Balding’s Ormito (3.45) at 25/1 with BetVictor to hopefully reward each-way support under Oisin Murphy. His pedigree hints towards thriving over this trip and after an excellent second behind Kings Fete in the Geoffrey F last month at Newbury, is chanced to sneak into a place for in-form trainer and jockey. He should be helped by any additional rain and so should Harbour Law, who could likewise be running on late to out-run his price of 25/1.
One favourite that is unopposable on Town Moor is Rivet (2.00) for William Haggas in the opener. The colt was the subject of strong support prior to bolting-up in the Convivial at York’s Ebor Meeting and looks a potentially very smart colt for connections. The son of Fastnet Rock has some mouth-watering entries and is 14/1 for next month’s Gp 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket and 25/1 and 33/1 respectively for classic success in next season’s 2000 Guineas and Derby.
The 5f Portland is traditionally one of the most competitive sprint handicaps of the season and I’m happy to throw two darts at both Humidor (2.35) and Final Venture (2.35) drawn on either side of the track. Humidor looked back to his best last time out at Epsom and was third behind Muthmir in the corresponding contest two years ago, whilst Final Venture put in a career-best last time out in the Beverley Bullet and looks a progressive sprinter to keep on the right side of.
Limato was sensational his Gp 2 Park Stakes last term and in hindsight it’s staggering to think he went off as big as 9/2! There’s nothing of his classic in this afternoon’s contest with David Simcock’s Breton Rock (3.10) third in this 12 months ago and is potentially over-priced at 9/1 with BetVictor should the heavens open over South Yorkshire.