Ghaiyyath heads super six in Irish Champion

Ghaiyyath will face five rivals in a red-hot renewal of the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday, the first day of Irish Champions Weekend.

Charlie Appleby’s stable star has enjoyed a perfect season, winning the Coronation Cup, beating Enable in the Eclipse and strolling to victory in the Juddmonte International at York.

His trip to Ireland had been up in the air until a change in quarantine regulations meant usual jockey William Buick could take the ride and following a steady gallop on Thursday morning, his participation was confirmed.

“It was a routine piece of work to check his well-being, and he has come through it without a worry,” Appleby told

“It was not strong work, more a breeze, which is normal procedure three days before a race. He’s telling us that he’s ready now for another big race.

“We are really looking forward to the weekend. He travels to Ireland at the peak of his career, unbeaten in four starts this year, three of them Group Ones, two of which were officially rated the best performances globally in 2020.

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“He’s now a five-year-old, and by any standards, he is lightly-raced. He has run only 12 times, winning nine and placing twice. This is his fourth season in training, and I believe what we are now seeing is an outstanding racehorse at the top of his game.”

Fantastic Light (right) edged out the brilliant Galileo in 2001
Fantastic Light (right) edged out the brilliant Galileo in 2001 (John Giles/PA)

Appleby added: “He’s going to Leopardstown in as good a condition as we have ever had him. I’m as pleased with him as I was before the Juddmonte International at York, where I thought he was very professional in the manner he went about everything.”

Aidan O’Brien fields three against the Godolphin star in Magical, who finished second to Ghaiyyath at York, last year’s Juddmonte International winner Japan and Armory.

Adding further spice to the contest is Jean-Claude Rouget’s Sottsass, who will be ridden by Colin Keane. Rouget won the race in 2016 with Almanzor.

Jessica Harrington’s Leo De Fury completes the field.

Fancy Blue has enjoyed a great season already
Fancy Blue has enjoyed a great season already (George Selwyn/PA)

The other Group One on Saturday’s card is the Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes in which 11 will go to post.

They are headed by Donnacha O’Brien’s Fancy Blue, already the winner of the French Oaks and the Nassau Stakes this season, but she is now dropping back to a mile. She will be ridden by Ryan Moore.

His father Aidan fields Irish 1000 Guineas winner Peaceful along with So Wonderful and Love Locket, while his brother Joseph runs Argentinian import Wilds Dreams and New York Girl.

Jessica Harrington’s Albigna was a Group One winner last year, but was well beaten in the Guineas on her return and in Group Three company recently. She will be joined by stablemate Valeria Messalina.

Johnny Murtagh is also doubly represented with Champers Elysees and Know It All.

Ger Lyons’ Ides Of August and Jim Bolger’s Jack Duggan will aim to maintain their unbeaten records in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes, while in the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile, Simon and Ed Crisford’s Century Dream will aim to add to his recent Goodwood win against John Quinn’s Safe Voyage – another good ride Keane has picked up.

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