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Ghaiyyath retires to stud

Ghaiyyath, one of the highest-rated horses in the world, has been retired to stud, Godolphin has announced.

Trained by Charlie Appleby, the five-year-old came into his own this season, winning three Group Ones in England.

He started with victory in the rearranged Coronation Cup at Newmarket, followed up in the Eclipse at Sandown, beating Enable, and then put up an imperious display in the Juddmonte International at York.

Most recently, his winning run was brought to an end by Magical in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Ghaiyyath had been in the mix to run on British Champions Day at Ascot and the Breeders’ Cup, but the decision has been taken to retire him to stand at Kildangan Stud in Ireland.

“Ghaiyyath has had a fantastic career, winning nine of his 13 races,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com.

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“His high-class cruising speed and relentless style of galloping was a joy to watch – and as I have said before, this year he came together both physically and mentally and looked the finished article.

“It is obviously disappointing not to be taking him to the Breeders’ Cup – but the exertions of a long season, which started in Dubai in January, were starting to show, and the decision has been made to retire him.

“He was an outstanding part of the Moulton Paddocks team, and I know that his numerous top-level successes gave our Principal, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, a great deal of pleasure.”

The decision comes on the back of Appleby also seeing his other stable star, Pinatubo, retired to stud recently.

William Buick rode Ghaiyyath in 11 of his 13 career starts, and eight of his nine victories.

He told Sky Sports Racing: “He’s a truly exceptional horse – and obviously this year, he’s the highest-rated in the world.

“Everything he did was just so flamboyant and so explosive – he really wore his heart on his sleeve, and I’ve been very privileged to have ridden him to some great wins.”

Buick was impressed with Ghaiyyath from his earliest days in the yard.

“As a physical specimen, he’s an amazing-looking horse – and everything he did early on was always ahead of everyone else,” he added.

“He’s just been a fantastic horse, from day one.

“He became renowned for that ability to go the pace he went and keep going, and even then at the end of his races to quicken from that pace and really put the race to bed.

“As he got older, more mature, he managed to channel his energy a little bit better – which we really saw this year.”

Buick nominated Ghaiyyath’s victory over Enable in this year’s Eclipse as his finest.

“For me, his crowning moment was probably at Sandown when he really confirmed that he was absolute top-drawer.

“Then he backed it up at York in the Juddmonte (International) – so those are the two that stand out.

“He’s certainly one of the best, if not the best, middle-distance horses I’ve ever ridden.

“He could do things that very few horses can do.

“The ability he had to keep up the pace was just phenomenal, over a mile and a half – that’s just something that you really don’t see.”

One Ruler supreme for Appleby and Buick in Autumn Stakes

One Ruler resumed his progression with a decisive success in the Emirates Autumn Stakes at Newmarket.

After finishing third behind subsequent Royal Lodge scorer New Mandate in a Listed contest at Doncaster last time out, the Charlie Appleby-trained Frankel colt bounced back to winning ways in the Group Three prize.

Racing over a mile for the time, the 5-1 winner showed a smart turn of foot in testing conditions to cross the line a length and three-quarters clear of Van Gogh.

Following the race One Ruler was introduced at 25-1 for next year’s 2000 Guineas by William Hill and 20-1 for the Derby with Betfair and Paddy Power.

Winning rider William Buick said: “Charlie was always adamant he would want the mile, but at the end of the day he has got a turn of foot. The combination of stepping up to a mile and running in this ground for the first time was always a bit of a worry, but he saw it out very well.

“I think it was a real good performance as he was last off the bridle and showed a real turn of foot in that ground as well. We know he is better on better ground so it is a lovely performance.

“It was the right race for the horse so you are hoping it goes well, but a lot of the horses have never been on that ground before.

“I think he will get further, but for the moment he is a miler. I think he will get a mile and a quarter.”

Champion juvenile Pinatubo retired to stud

Pinatubo, last year’s champion juvenile, has been retired to stand at Dalham Hall Stud.

Trained by Charlie Appleby and owned by Godolphin, the son of Shamardal enjoyed a perfect two-year-old campaign, winning all six starts.

From humble beginnings at Wolverhampton, Pinatubo went on to win the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, before graduating to Group One glory with a nine-length verdict in the National Stakes at the Curragh.

Also successful in the Dewhurst at Newmarket, he earned a rating of 128 – the highest juvenile figure since Celtic Swing in 1994, with his mark putting him 2lb ahead of Frankel at that stage of his career.

Appleby’s charge started this season as a beaten odds-on favourite when third in the 2000 Guineas and then finished second in the St James’s Palace Stakes, before getting back to winning ways in France in the Group One Prix Jean Prat.

He was last seen when a fast-finishing second in the Prix du Moulin behind Persian King at the beginning of September.

Pinatubo was brilliant in the National Stakes at the Curragh
Pinatubo was brilliant in the National Stakes at the Curragh (Niall Carson/PA)

“It has been a great honour and privilege to train a horse of this calibre and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed has taken great pleasure in following his career,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com

“To have a homebred, especially a descendent of the late Shamardal, is fantastic for the breeding operation and we look forward to seeing him stand at Dalham Hall Stud.”

Barney Roy set for Bahrain Trophy bid

Charlie Appleby feels Barney Roy is the right type of horse for the second running of the Bahrain International Trophy at Sakhir on November 20.

The six-year-old, winner of two Group One races in Germany and one in Dubai this campaign – as well as the St James’s Palace Stakes in 2017, is among 61 entries with 22 from Britain.

“It’s a race we’ve been keen to support, and we feel that we’ve got the right horse in Barney Roy to take to Bahrain,” said Appleby.

“He’s got a great profile leading into the race off the back of his Group One in Germany. He’s been shipped out to Dubai already and will continue his preparation there.”

Other Group One winners on the list are Billesdon Brook, Deirdre, Intellogent and Zabeel Prince with last year’s victor Royal Julius also there.

John Gosden finished second in the race last year with Turgenev and will try to go one better this year with Global Giant.

Gosden said: “Global Giant’s in great form. It’s been the plan all year to go to the Bahrain International and we’ve been very happy with him.”

A maximum field of 14 will go to post.

Master to skip Dewhurst

Charlie Appleby has ruled Master Of The Seas out of the Darley Dewhurst Stakes following his defeat in Ireland earlier this month.

Having followed up a debut victory on the Rowley Mile with an impressive display in the Group Two Duchess of Cambridge Stakes on the July Course, the Dubawi colt was well fancied to provide his trainer with a third straight win in the Group One National Stakes at the Curragh.

However, he ultimately came up a little short in his bid to follow in the hoofprints of Quorto and Pinatubo, finishing a close-up fourth behind Joseph O’Brien’s Thunder Moon – who now heads ante-post lists for next year’s 2000 Guineas.

Master Of The Seas emerged with plenty of credit, but is currently on a break before a potential French assignment later in the autumn.

Appleby said: “He won’t be going to the Dewhurst. He didn’t come out of the National Stakes as well, and he had a hard race there.

“We felt we would give him a small break. I think we will go later in the autumn, and he has options in France.”

Ghaiyyath ‘unlikely’ to take Arc chance

Charlie Appleby has confirmed Ghaiyyath is unlikely to line up in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp on Sunday week.

The five-year-old has been one of the stars of the season so far, completing a Group One hat-trick with a trio of tremendous front-running displays in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket, the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and the Juddmonte International at York.

He suffered his first defeat of 2020 when Magical reversed the International form in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown earlier this month – and Appleby feels a trip to France just three weeks later might be the wrong call.

Appleby said: “I think it is probably more a negative than a positive at the moment – I think we are saying the Arc is probably an unlikely next start for him.

“He has put up four big performances this year and the first two or three were nicely spaced out. We know that was one of his quickest back ups all season – from the Juddmonte to the Irish Champion Stakes.

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“To go for the Arc and then look for a target afterwards, i.e. the Breeders’ Cup – that would be a big ask for a horse like him, in my opinion, as he puts in so much.”

Ghaiyyath could make his next appearance over a mile and a quarter in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 17, or wait for a return to a mile and a half in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in early November.

“Without having a rubber stamp, we are looking like missing the Arc and looking towards Champions Day or the Breeders’ Cup,” Appleby added.

“Plans will be dictated by the conditions. The horse had a quiet week after Leopardstown, as he has done after each race this year, but we’ve been pleased that he is showing his wellness again. Ascot is there as a possibility for sure.

“We’ve seen what he can do over a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half. When you win an Eclipse, then a Juddmonte and then go and run a great race in the Irish Champion over 10 furlongs, I think people tend to forget what he can do over a mile and a half.

“He has only run three times over a mile and a half. He has broken the track record twice – in Germany and here in the Coronation Cup.

“We are in a lucky position. He is competitive over 10 furlongs and he is very good over a mile and a half in my opinion, and that brings the Breeders’ Cup into strong contention.”

Options are open for Pinatubo
Options are open for Pinatubo (Niall Carson/PA)

Another Appleby-trained star who will not be heading to Paris is Pinatubo.

The Prix de la Foret was mentioned as a potential target following his fast-finishing second in the Prix du Moulin last month, but he is set to run in either the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot or wait for the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland.

Appleby said: “Pinatubo is not going to go to France next week – he is having a break after the Moulin.

“All being well, you’ve got the two options – Champions Day at Ascot over the mile or the Breeders’ Cup. Again, without having a rubber stamp on it, you would say the percentage call would be to look towards the Breeders’ Cup.

“The Breeders’ Cup Mile could be tailor-made for him. We will go where the percentage call is right.”

La Barrosa takes Tattersalls triumph

La Barrosa survived a scare to maintain his unbeaten record in the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket.

Sent off the 4-7 favourite after impressing on his debut at Ascot, the 750,000 guineas yearling found himself very short of room a furlong out.

Charlie Appleby’s youngster was travelling beautifully in the hands of William Buick coming down the hill behind the pace-setter, Dark Lion.

But as push came to shove, Qaader was on his outside under Jim Crowley, leaving Buick to look for racing room.

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To La Barrosa’s credit, he knuckled down and when the gap was big enough, he was good enough to go through it.

La Barrosa eventually went away to win by a length from Dark Lion, with Betfair cutting his 2000 Guineas odds from 25-1 to 16s.

Appleby said: “It was a nice, educational run on his first start at Ascot. He travelled through the race very well and picked up well. Even then he came through horses that day and James (Doyle) gave him a nice educational ride.

“The plan was always to get cover today and watching it I was quite comfortable and I was quite happy where he was, but William wasn’t quite as comfortable as he felt he needed a bit of an out.

“His class has prevailed there, once he got that bit of a gap. He showed a bit of courage and a bit of class, as picking up late on here can be quite hard.

“He hasn’t got an entry in the Dewhurst. Coming into today, we felt we would see what kind of performance he put up (before deciding) whether we contemplate supplementing for a Dewhurst and from what we have seen today, it is up for discussion.

“I feel he has learnt again today and he is entitled to come forward a bit more. He travels very well and I wouldn’t want him to be doing it the wrong way round yet.

“I think seven is his trip for the moment, though I’m not saying he won’t get a mile in time. While he is learning, I think this is his right trip for the moment.

“This horse is a work horse, whereas Master Of The Seas (Superlative Stakes winner) is not a work horse. Master The Seas just goes about his work and he would go past you in the string and you wouldn’t take much notice, whereas this horse has got a bit of presence about him and spring in his step.”

Setback rules out Foret for Space Blues

Space Blues has suffered a season-ending setback, trainer Charlie Appleby has announced.

The four-year-old has enjoyed a fantastic 2020 campaign, winning each of his four starts, graduating from Listed success at Haydock in June to winning the Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest on his last start.

Space Blues added Group Three glory at ParisLongchamp and Group Two gold at Goodwood in the interim, but he will now miss his intended outing in the Prix de la Foret on Sunday week.

Appleby told www.godolphin.com: “We are obviously very disappointed that we will not see Space Blues line up in the Prix de la Foret next month, but look forward to seeing him back on the racecourse in the new year.”

La Barrosa moves up in class at Newmarket

Impressive Ascot scorer La Barrosa tests the water at Group Three level in the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket.

The Lope De Vega colt made a big impression on his racecourse introduction three weeks ago – showing a smart change of gear to leave his rivals, which included Enable’s half-brother Derab, trailing in his wake.

Trainer Charlie Appleby immediately identified Thursday’s seven-furlong contest as a suitable target for La Barrosa, and he will be widely-expected to dispatch five rivals on the Rowley Mile.

Appleby told www.godolphin.com: “La Barrosa produced a very pleasing debut at Ascot and has come out of the race well.

“We felt that he has shown us enough to merit the step up to Pattern company and this should tell us more about his future.”

His highest-rated opponent is the Richard Hannon-trained Ventura Tormenta, who carries a 5lb penalty for winning the Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly in July.

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Since that summer triumph in France, the son of Acclamation has finished last of 10 runners in the Phoenix Stakes in Ireland and sixth in the Flying Childers at Doncaster.

Hannon said: “We’ve gone up and down in trip with him a bit, but the guys that ride him think that this trip is what he wants.

“He was the last off the bridle over seven furlongs in a Group Two on the July Course (finished fifth in Superlative Stakes), so let’s hope we have made the right decision.

“I hope the ground isn’t too soft. He has been busy all season and he ran a good race last time out at Doncaster.”

Yazaman would not be winning out of turn for William Haggas, having filled the runner-up in the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot, the July Stakes at Newmarket, the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood and in a valuable sales race at Doncaster this season.

Qaader (Mark Johnston), Dark Lion (Roger Varian) and Albadri (Jane Chapple-Hyam) complete the sextet.

Six runners are also set to go to post for the Jockey Club Rose Bowl Stakes, which Roger Charlton’s stable stalwart Withhold is bidding to win for the second season running under Jason Watson.

The seven-year-old won a Listed prize on the July Course earlier this year and was last seen finishing second to Trueshan in a conditions event at Salisbury.

“He has dropped in and out of form this season – but as he has got older, he has got wiser,” said Watson.

“He has not been straightforward throughout his career, because he had little injuries and breaks. It was nice to see him run like he did at Salisbury the last day – giving weight away to all bar one.

“I know that was a drop in grade, but it showed that he is still willing to give it a go – and he was only beaten by a progressive, young stayer.

“It isn’t a big field and if we can get out in front and lob along, I think he will run a good race again.

“It really depends which Withhold turns up on the day.”

The standard is set by Johnston’s Mildenberger, who makes his first competitive appearance since being touched off by high-class stablemate Nayef Road in the Sagaro Stakes at Newcastle in early June.

Ghostwatch (Appleby), Ranch Hand (Andrew Balding), Sleeping Lion (James Fanshawe) and Who What When (Murty McGrath) are the other hopefuls.

Glorious return to form for Journey

Glorious Journey gave his season a much-needed boost when returning to winning ways at the scene of his greatest success in the Dubai Duty Free Cup at Newbury.

Having claimed the Hungerford Stakes at the track 12 months ago, the Charlie Appleby-trained five-year-old had looked out of sorts in two Pattern race outings in Britain this season after returning from a spell in Dubai.

Appearing to appreciate a drop down to Listed company, the Dubawi gelding quickened away smartly late on in the seven-furlong prize to cross the line with a length in hand from 1000 Guineas fourth Final Song, completing a treble for James Doyle and double for Appleby.

Doyle said of the 11-2 shot: “He has got the form in the book, but he had two below-par runs and we were on the comeback mission today. The conditions suited and it was beautiful ground out there.

“The little bit of cover early was key as he likes to just follow one for a couple of furlongs, then I was able to let him go just inside the two and he quickened up well.

“He travelled super and he is back to how he was before. He was a little bit fresh in his first two starts and it may have just taken a bit of work to put him on his A game, but he was really relaxed today. I imagine he will step up back up into Group race company now.”

Doyle had earlier been on the mark aboard the George Boughey-trained Mirage Mac (5-1) in the Racing TV Novice Median Auction Stakes and Humanitarian (7-2) for John Gosden in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap.

Glorious Journey’s victory was the second leg of a quick-fire brace for Appleby, who sent out Yibir (5-2) to victory in the 40 Year Anniversary Haynes, Hanson & Clark Conditions Stakes.

Yibir makes all for conditions glory at Newbury

Yibir added his name to an illustrious roll of honour as he continued his progression with a tenacious front-running victory in the 40 Year Anniversary Haynes, Hanson & Clark Conditions Stakes at Newbury.

The Dubawi colt backed up his recent maiden success at Sandown to give trainer Charlie Appleby his second win in the mile prize, which has previously been claimed by the likes of 1981 Derby winner Shergar, Rainbow Quest, King’s Theatre and Nayef.

Racing together with Baradar, the 5-2 shot, who is a full-brother to multiple Group One winner Wild Illusion, found plenty for pressure to hold favourite Megallan at bay by a length.

Winning rider William Buick said: “He is a big horse, but he has done nothing wrong and is learning on the job. Today he has come forward again.

“It was nice ground here today and stepping up to a mile has suited him. He is the type of horse, looking at him, that whatever he does this year, he will do better next year.

“It was a small field and there was no real plan to make the running. I just went with how the horse felt and he was comfortable doing what he was doing.

“The early fractions were slow so he was always going to finish his race well, but I like the way he responded.”

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Yibir was introduced at 50-1 for next year’s 2000 Guineas and Derby by Paddy Power, and Buick expects further improvement in 2021.

He added: “It is early days so it is hard to say how far he will go, but he is bred to be very good and he has done nothing wrong so far in his life.

“A mile is perfect for him at the moment, but he will get further next year.”

Roger Teal looks to have unearthed another potential gem in Whenthedealinsdone (4-1), who held Twilight Calls by a head in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes.

The Lambourn handler said: “We are very excited by him. We will keep our feet on the floor, but I think we’ve found another one. He was first off the bridle but when Jason (Watson) asked him, he responded gamely.

“I’ll have a look at the programme book now. If the ground stays nice, I would like to have go at something better this season.”

Last year’s Derby seventh Humanitarian made a triumphant return from a 455-day absence when getting up close home to defeat Dubai Future by a neck in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap.

Winning rider James Doyle said of the John Gosden-trained 7-2 shot: “He put in some nice performances before things didn’t pan out for him behind Japan at Ascot on his last start in the King Edward VII Stakes, but before that he had run a nice race in the Derby.

“He did well there, lumping that weight round. He stuck at it well having taken a good grip all the way round and that will have helped taken the freshness out of him.”

Doyle had earlier notched up the first leg of a hat-trick aboard Mirage Mac (5-1), who is likely to have her sights raised significantly following her short-head verdict in the Racing TV Novice Median Auction Stakes.

George Boughey, winning trainer, said: “She has done well beating the colts. She is a lovely filly and is versatile ground wise.

“There is a Listed race over a mile (Montrose Stakes) at the back end of the year we could look at, but we are in no rush with her.”

Doyle completed his hat-trick aboard the Appleby-trained Glorious Journey in the Dubai Duty Free Cup Stakes.

Lucid Dreamer (10-11) maintained her unbeaten record to give trainer Roger Charlton a third successive victory in the Dubai Duty Free Full Of Surprises British EBF Fillies’ Conditions Stakes.

After sending out subsequent Fillies’ Mile winner Quadrilateral to glory 12 months ago, the Beckhampton handler repeated the trick with the Dansili filly, who ran out a two-and-three-quarter-length winner of the seven-furlong affair.

Charlton said: “We’ve been lucky with this race. She jumped a little bit to the right and we were then a little bit keen and green, but she went down to the 10-furlong to pull up, so I guess she has done well really.

“She has travelled well, picked up well and I don’t think a mile will be a problem. I guess something like the Oh Sharp Stakes could be for her as there are not many mile races about.”

Ghaiyyath geared up for Irish Champion challenge

Ghaiyyath bids to confirm his superiority over defending champion Magical in a fascinating rematch for the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.

The Charlie Appleby-trained Ghaiyyath has arguably been the star of the season so far – completing a hat-trick of Group One wins with dominant displays in the Coronation Cup, the Coral-Eclipse and the Juddmonte International.

Aidan O’Brien’s Magical was three lengths in arrears when runner-up on the Knavesmire, but gets the chance to exact her revenge on home soil and become only the second dual winner of the Champion Stakes after former Ballydoyle ace Dylan Thomas (2006 and 2007).

Speaking on an Irish Champions Weekend preview, Appleby said: “Previously he has taken time to come back to himself after his races, but as a five-year-old this year he’s very much the finished article.

“His performances are always very big – he’s never easy on himself even when he’s winning. He puts those big figures out there and in the past it’s taken its toll, but thankfully this year he’s taken each race very well.”

The Newmarket handler is keen to get this weekend’s assignment out of the way before deciding whether to allow Ghaiyyath to bid for glory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe next month.

He added: “A decision on the Arc will be a wait and see. We purposefully took our time before deciding to definitely run in Ireland, we just took it day by day and we’ll regroup after it.”

William Buick and Ghaiyyath have formed a formidable partnership
William Buick and Ghaiyyath have formed a formidable partnership (David Davies/PA)
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Ghaiyyath’s regular partner William Buick is able to travel to Ireland for the ride following a recent change to Covid-19 protocols.

He said: “As far as I’m aware he’s in good shape.

“He’s running over the same trip he’s been running over the last twice in this country. It’s a good race for him.

“I don’t know whether the Arc is in the discussion or not. Let’s get this race out of the way and we’ll see.”

Magical won the Pretty Polly Stakes and the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh prior to chasing home Ghaiyyath at York – and O’Brien feels she is capable of raising her game.

He said: “She doesn’t owe anybody anything. She’s raced against the best. We feel we haven’t really seen the best of her yet.

“Someday when everything will fall right she’ll be at the height of her powers and we’ll see.

“She’s a serious, high-rated, incredibly genuine mare. We keep tweaking things as we go along to see if we can get another little bit from her to get her to show everybody what she shows us at home every day.

“I don’t thing we’ve seen her very best yet, but it could come one of these days.”

Ryan Moore has sided with Japan
Ryan Moore has sided with Japan (Nigel French/PA)

O’Brien also saddles Japan – who was not far behind Ghaiyyath when third in the Eclipse, but disappointed on his latest outing in the King George – as well as outsider Armory. Interestingly, Ryan Moore has sided with him over Magical, the mount of Seamie Heffernan.

Of Japan, O’Brien said: “He came back from Ascot with very sore soles in his feet. We don’t know if it was sole pressure from the shoes or if he stood on something, but both front feet were very sore.

“He was lame for a few days after. Then we took the shoes off completely and we rode him bare foot for 10 days and he came back 100 per cent sound and his action came back 100 per cent and he’s shod now.

“He’s in full work and has been taking it very happily. He’s travelling well in his work and everything seems good, so it was a legitimate excuse.

“We look forward to seeing him run now – we’re very happy with his work.”

Sottsass bids to provide leading French trainer Jean-Claude Rouget with a second win in the race following the 2016 triumph of Almanzor, with Jessica Harrington’s Leo De Fury completing the sextet.

Sottsass will be ridden by Colin Keane, who said: “I’d say it will be a brilliant race to watch.

“Obviously Ghaiyyath was impressive the last day, Magical is the queen, she never runs a bad race and our horse I’d say has been trained with an autumn campaign in mind so you might not have seen the best of him yet.”

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 www.godolphin.com.

“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.

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“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.

“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.

Ghaiyyath all set for Irish Champion Stakes

Ghaiyyath will run in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, after pleasing trainer Charlie Appleby in a routine piece of work.

The five-year-old showed his well-being when put through his paces with his usual lead horse on Wednesday – to confirm his trip to Ireland this weekend.

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

“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.

“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.”

Hopes are therefore very high for another big run on Saturday, after Ghaiyyath’s three successive Group One victories this summer – preceded by a Group Three success at Meydan in February.

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 Group One Juddmonte International at York, where I thought he was very professional in the manner he went about everything.

“He showed his maturity. With every race this year, I think he has got better. From Newmarket, where he broke the course record for one and a half miles, galloping from end to end, to Sandown, where he beat Enable….to York, where his brilliance shone through.”

Monday Musings: Charlie Gives Maurice the Blues

Until York next week, there isn’t very much of great moment happening on the racecourses of the United Kingdom, but Sunday in France and Ireland was highly interesting and informative, writes Tony Stafford.

Every year the Prix Maurice De Gheest offers a fascinating mid-season barometer of the relative merits of the classic and older generations. At the same time its 1300-metre (6.5 furlong) straight trip brings together pure sprinters and horses that stay further. Often it’s the latter grouping that comes out on top and so it proved yesterday when the four-year-old Space Blues got the better of a field chock-full of Group 1 performers.

Space Blues is trained by Charlie Appleby who sent the four-year-old over 12 months earlier to finish a staying-on third behind the Martyn Meade-trained Advertise.

Appleby showed great enterprise in bringing him back for this repeat attempt, barely a week after a smart win at Goodwood. The field was headed, form- and betting-wise, by the Andre Fabre-trained but also Godolphin-owned Earthlight, unbeaten in six starts and twice a Group 1 winner in a five-race unblemished 2019 juvenile campaign.

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Earthlight had every chance throughout and was moved into contention by Mickael Barzalona in the middle of the track, while Space Blues seemed to be struggling after making a sluggish start close to the stands rails.

But then William Buick could be seen to be manoeuvring him into a challenging position and once he secured a gap inside the last furlong, he breezed through and comfortably held Hello Youmzain and Lope Y Fernandez with the favourite only fourth.

Space Blues began life by winning a late-season Nottingham juvenile maiden over a mile and started out last year over 10 furlongs at Newbury, finishing fourth. Dropped in trip he won two seven-furlong races, a York handicap and Epsom Listed before that initial trip to Deauville.

This year – following a single run in Dubai in the winter - he has moved quickly though the grades, collecting a Haydock Listed; a Longchamp Group 3, and then up one more level for the Lennox Stakes (Group 2) at Goodwood where his turn of foot quickly settled that argument.

His ability to quicken characterised yesterday’s display and I have no doubt that for the rest of the season he will be hard to beat at the highest level at anywhere between six and eight furlongs. Considering his pedigree, it was understandable that initially middle-distance racing was at the forefront of Charlie Appleby’s plans.

The son of Dubawi was bred to Miss Lucifer, a triple winner for Barry Hills, and a daughter of Noverre. Noverre was trained for his first seven races by David Loder, all as a two-year-old when Loder had just re-located to train at the recently de-commissioned Evry racecourse near Paris. Noverre had already won twice before retaining his unbeaten record when coming over to Newmarket for the July Stakes.

In all, his form figures with Loder in Europe were 111212, but the decision to send him to Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at the end of that year proved unsuccessful, Noverre finishing nowhere: 11th of 14. Sent to be trained at three by Saeed Bin Suroor, he was to win only once more from 14 starts, but that one was pretty good, the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood!

Space Blues enlivened events at Deauville barely half an hour before another exceptional performance, this time by the Jessica Harrington-trained filly Lucky Vega in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh.

This six-furlong race attracted most of the best of the Irish juveniles to have raced so far as well as The Lir Jet, Michael Bell’s Royal Ascot winner. Steel Bull, so impressive when winning the Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood was also in the very strong line-up.

Lucky Vega had been caught late on in a recent run at The Curragh by the big outsider Laws Of Indices, but here she had that rival well in arrears as she strode to a near four-length margin in a style that suggests the Matron Stakes must be on her agenda, as well as all the top fillies’ races elsewhere in Europe.

- TS