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QEII target on Champions Day for Century Dream

Ed Crisford is keeping his fingers crossed for soft ground on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot to give Century Dream the best possible chance of bouncing back from a slightly underwhelming performance in Ireland on Saturday.

Having run out an impressive winner of the Celebration Mile at Goodwood last month, the six-year-old was the market leader to double his Group Two tally in the Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown.

However, having cut out much of the running under William Buick, Century Dream weakened into fifth place as fellow British raider Safe Voyage emerged triumphant.

Crisford, who trains Century Dream in partnership with his father, Simon, said: “I think the ground was a bit quick at Leopardstown and they went strong enough up front.

“The ground was probably a bit quick for him, but he’s come back fine and I think we’ll just head to the QEII on hopefully softer ground.”

The following afternoon A’Ali was sent off favourite to grab Group One glory in the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh, where he landed the Sapphire Stakes in July.

A'Ali failed to fire in the Flying Five
A’Ali failed to fire in the Flying Five (Dan Abraham/PA)

But all plans are on hold for the son of Society Rock after he trailed home last of 14 runners.

“He was disappointing – he looked a bit flat and a bit lethargic,” Crisford said.

“We’ll just see how he is this week before we make any further plans, I think. When they run too bad to be true, we need to put the horse first and see how he comes out of it.”

Breeders’ Cup date beckons for Safe Voyage

John Quinn has put the Breeders’ Cup Mile top of the agenda for Safe Voyage following his latest big-race success in Ireland on Saturday.

Following an impressive display in last month’s City of York Stakes, the seven-year-old doubled his Group Two tally and claimed his 12th career victory overall with the narrowest of triumphs over Sinawann in the Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown.

A step up to Group One level beckons for a horse clearly in the form of his life – and while both the Prix de la Foret at ParisLongchamp and the QEII at Ascot are under consideration, it is the two-turn mile at Keeneland in November which whets Quinn’s appetite the most.

Reflecting on Saturday’s win, he said: “We’re delighted it just went his way. I think he deserved it as he’s so tough and admirable – everything you want in a top-class racehorse.

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“It was his first win over a mile, which is great – it opens up other doors.

“We’ll see how he comes out of the race, but I’m going to work back from the Breeders’ Cup. We can look at the Foret and the QEII, but he’ll only run in one of those, if any.

“They’re all very good races, but the Breeders’ Cup Mile is the race that appeals the most.”

A fine weekend for the Malton-based trainer almost got even better at the Curragh on Sunday, with Keep Busy beaten just half a length in the Group One Flying Five Stakes by a fellow Yorkshire raider in Kevin Ryan’s Glass Slippers.

Keep Busy (right) pushed Glass Slippers all the way in the Flying Five
Keep Busy (right) pushed Glass Slippers all the way in the Flying Five (PA)

Quinn was unsurprisingly delighted with Keep Busy’s display – and far from disappointed by the performance of her better-fancied stablemate Liberty Beach in finishing seventh in the same race.

“It was a phenomenal run from Keep Busy – she doesn’t know how to run a bad race,” Quinn added.

“She got a bump from a horse going backwards and was beaten half a length, but that’s racing and full credit to Kevin and all the connections of the winner.

“Liberty Beach ran a good race as well. She just had no luck in running and was only beaten three lengths.

“They’re both entered in the Prix de l’Abbaye and if they’re both well, that’s where they’ll go.”

Cadillac speeds to impressive Leopardstown victory

Cadillac showed his rivals a clean pair of heels to run out an impressive victor in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown.

Jessica Harrington’s charge was sent off the 11-8 favourite for the Group Two affair despite being edged out in the Futurity Stakes and settled on the outside by Shane Foley, tracking the pace set by Van Gogh.

Cadillac travelled well throughout the mile heat, and when Foley asked his partner to quicken inside the final furlong, the Lope De Vega colt displayed an electric turn of foot, quickly pulling clear to run out a three-and-a-half-length winner over Van Gogh. Reve De Vol was a further two and three-quarter lengths back in third.

Coral made Cadillac their 8-1 co-favourite for next year’s 2000 Guineas, with Betfair cutting him from 33-1 to 12-1 for the Newmarket Classic.

The latter also go 5-1 about his chances for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in the autumn and the trainer’s daughter, Kate, indicated America could be the next port of call.

She said: “You’d have to be delighted with him. You saw the real Cadillac there today and he’s a lovely horse.

“He’s a horse that just goes through the motions at home, you don’t really know how big an engine is in there, but it’s fairly big.

“He didn’t really learn much the first day, but learned a lot the last day and he did it right there today.

“It’s great for the syndicate (Alpha Racing 2020), which we started two years ago and this is the second running of it. We’re going to go forward with it next year and it’s great to have a high-profile horse like this.

“I’d say all being well his next start will probably be in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.”

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Monday (right) on her way to victory
Monday (right) on her way to victory (PA)

Monday (12-1) made every yard of the running to claim the Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes.

Fourth on her only previous run, Seamie Heffernan had his Aidan O’Brien-trained mount sharply away, with better-fancied stablemate and 9-4 favourite More Beautiful settled on her heels.

However, Ryan Moore was pushing the market leader from some way out and it was left to No Speak Alexander to throw down a challenge, but she fell short by three-quarters of a length at the line.

The winner was introduced as a 33-1 shot for next year’s 1000 Guineas by Betfair, and 25-1 by RaceBets, and she could now take a jump up in company.

O’Brien said: “She’s the first foal out of Ballydoyle. She can step into a Group race fairly quick, I’d say.

“She probably learned a lot the first day and learned a good bit more today. I’d say she won’t have any problem stepping up quick.

“The Boussac, Fillies’ Mile, all those races will be open to her.”

Tiger Moth (5-6 favourite) then made it a treble on the day for O’Brien with a clear-cut victory in the Paddy Power ‘Is It 2021 Yet?’ Stakes.

O’Brien also struck gold in the feature Irish Champion Stakes with Magical, and Irish Derby second Tiger Moth brought up the hat-trick with the minimum of fuss, coasting home by four lengths under Ryan Moore.

O’Brien said: “He’s a lovely horse. Obviously his last run was in the Irish Derby.

“We gave him a break, said we’d come back here and maybe have a look at the Melbourne Cup, but he probably won’t get in where he is. He’s 8lb below Santiago.

“I wasn’t sure a mile and a half was his thing and we would have been very happy going back to a mile and a quarter. It was a strong-run mile and a half and we were going to find out today whether he stayed or not.”

Safe Voyage (right) just prevailed for trainer John Quinn
Safe Voyage (right) just prevailed for trainer John Quinn (PA)

Safe Voyage and Sinawann produced a fantastic finish to the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile, with John Quinn’s British raider just grabbing the verdict in a photo.

Colin Keane, who had earlier struck Group One gold with Champers Elysees in the Matron Stakes, had to be at his strongest to get Safe Voyage (4-1) back in front on the line, triumphing by a short head.

He said: “I thought Ronny (Ronan Whelan, Sinawann’s rider) was just after nabbing me, but to be fair to my horse, when the other horse came to him he put his head down and tried very hard.

“He travelled very strong, quickened well and when he did get by him, my lad fought back very bravely.

“He’s been a revelation from winning the premier handicap in Galway to these Group Twos. It’s a brilliant training performance.”

Halimi claimed handicap honours
Halimi claimed handicap honours (PA)

Halimi (18-1) swooped inside the final furlong of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Petingo’ Handicap to collar the gutsy Springbank and repel the late thrust of Shoshone Warrior for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning.

“I just spoke to the boss and he’s delighted with the horse. He’s a nice progressive type,” said Bolger’s daughter, Una Manning.

“We’re thrilled with him and he’ll go for more of the same. It’s nice to win a big pot like this on Champions Day.”

Magical thwarts Ghaiyyath in Irish Champion epic

Magical got the better of Ghaiyyath in a pulsating finish to the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by Seamie Heffernan, the five-year-old mare was turning around Juddmonte International form with Ghaiyyath, as the pair went head to head from the off.

As usual, William Buick set out to make all on the Charlie Appleby-trained 8-13 favourite – but the distress signals were starting to emerge at the top of the straight as Magical moved upsides, while Japan switched to the inside rail to throw down his challenge.

To his credit, Ghaiyyath kept fighting, but Magical (9-2) found an extra gear in the final half-furlong to pull clear at the line, scoring by three-quarters of a length as she repeated her victory from 12 months ago, becoming just the second back-to-back winner after O’Brien’s Dylan Thomas in 2006 and 2007.

O’Brien said: “We were very happy after York, we saw what she was able to do. When she went by herself in York, she just lost interest a little bit and then the others came around her and she started staying on after the race was over.

“What she always wants is to eyeball a horse and battle. Seamie was happy to make the running today if William wanted to get a lead and if William was going to go on, Seamie was going to go with him to keep her interested and he gave her a brilliant ride.

“She’s a serious mare when you get into a battle with her and when you really get into a battle with her, that’s when you really see what she can do, as you saw there today.

Magical just proved too strong for Ghaiyyath
Magical just proved too strong for Ghaiyyath (PA)
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Magical was initially retired from racing at the end of last year after a setback ruled her out of a planned Breeders’ Cup run, but owners John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith reversed that decision and returned her to training in the spring – a move that has reaped rich dividends.

O’Brien said: “The lads made the call and all credit to them for doing it.

“She was booked to go to No Nay Never and we were just so delighted that they decided to give her another go. They said that hopefully No Nay Never will be there next year and hopefully she will be as well. She’s an amazing mare.

“I suppose we are learning about her all the time. If you get away from her she gets a bit lazy, but if you get into a fight with her very few will eyeball her.

“That’s what she did – she eyeballed the colt all the way.

“She’s a great filly. It wasn’t a big field, but they were all good horses in it. Armory (third-placed stablemate) ran an unbelievable race as well.

“It’s a massive race. Of all the European races, prestige-wise, this is one of the top, if not the top, because on ratings over a 10-year period, this nearly comes out on top of all the races.

“Every year all the high-rated horses turn up here. It has a perfect place in the calendar, perfect ground, perfect distance.”

O’Brien also houses 1000 Guineas and Oaks winner Love in his Ballydoyle yard, and she currently tops the betting for next month’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.

Magical could also be in the frame for that race – although the Prix de l’Opera is alternative option on the same day, with a trip to America another possible

O’Brien added: “She has the choice of the Arc or the fillies’ race on the same day. It will depend on what the lads want to do with Love.

“The Breeders’ Cup could also suit her really well.”

Charlie Appleby (right) with Ghaiyyath following his Juddmonte win at York last month
Charlie Appleby (right) with Ghaiyyath following his Juddmonte win at York last month (David Davies/PA)

Appleby was magnanimous in defeat, and is no rush to map out Ghaiyyath’s next outing.

He told www.godolphin.com: “I talked with William Buick afterwards, who said that it rode like a decent race and they have gone a good gallop. Turning in, Ghaiyyath was there with every chance but full credit to Magical, who is a multiple Group One winner.

“They have produced another good duel up the straight but she has come out on top this time.

“Ghaiyyath will have a short break now before we decide on our next target. We will make a call over the coming weeks and discuss everything before confirming where to go next with him.”

Murtagh celebrates Group One glory with Champers Elysees

Champers Elysees completed her meteoric rise through the ranks as she gave Johnny Murtagh his first Group One success as a trainer with victory in the Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.

The three-year-old won a Curragh handicap on her seasonal bow in June, but after winning a Listed heat at the Galway Festival and a Group Three at Gowran just 10 days ago, Murtagh – who has been enjoying such a fine season – opted to pitch her into top-level company.

Teaming up with Colin Keane for the first time, Champers Elysees was ridden with restraint through the early stages, as Love Locket set the pace and it looked at one point as though the winner’s stablemate Know It All would take the prize before Peaceful took over in the final furlong.

However, Champers Elysees was flying on the outside, sweeping through in the shadow of the post to give Murtagh a memorable triumph.

Peaceful kept on for second, with 9-4 favourite Fancy Blue keeping on for third, just ahead of the Cieren Fallon-ridden Know It All.

Murtagh, who won the race three times in the saddle, said: “It feels great. I’m sick of everyone saying ‘you had such a great career as a jockey’ – that’s in the past and it’s the now I’m worried about.

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“It’s been a brilliant year, but to win a Group One on Champions Weekend means everything. That’s why we get up in the morning.

“We believe we have the team to compete in Group Ones and we want to be on this stage.

“I have to say thanks to my wife, my family, as they have been very supportive and to all the staff back at the stables and everybody who supports us, including the owners, through a tricky year.”

He went on: “She was always a good filly and I did think she’d make up into a stakes filly. The amount she has improved is unbelievable.

“She has improved a lot physically and she’s now started to know she’s good. Handicap, Listed, Group Three and now she’s a Group One winner. When those fillies start improving, there is no end to them.

“I was watching both of them and thought Know It All ran a cracker as well, she was there all the way and might have just got outstayed.

“I could see her (Champers Elysees) coming with Fancy Blue and I thought it was going to be a battle, but the way she quickened up in the last 100 yards, Colin said, was very impressive.

“She’s a very good filly.”

Murtagh could now head to Newmarket with Champers Elysees, and a trip to the Breeders’ Cup meeting will also be under consideration.

He added: “I don’t know where next as this was the main plan. I suppose the Sun Chariot in Newmarket is there, it’s fillies only again and I wouldn’t mind staying in with the fillies.

“There is also a chance to go over to the Breeders’ Cup Mile. We’ll sit down, enjoy tonight and then make a plan about where to go next.

It was a red letter day for Johnny Murtagh
It was a red letter day for Johnny Murtagh (PA)

“The Breeders’ Cup is an option and a mile around there would suit her down to the ground as she’s quick and has a great turn of foot.

“It’s been a magical season. I’m a very good trainer and I just need better horses!

“When I get them, these are the results. It’s very hard to source horses in Ireland, but when we do I’m not behind the door in telling people that we are able to do the business once we get the right horse.”

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.”

Fancy Blue bids to add Matron glory to Classic success

Donnacha O’Brien is looking forward to starting Fancy Blue’s autumn campaign in the Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.

The filly gave the first-season trainer a first Classic success in the French Oaks at Chantilly and backed that up in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwoood.

“It’s a great weekend, the biggest in Irish racing and I’m excited about having horses to run,” he said.

“Fancy Blue starts out on her autumn campaign in the Matron Stakes and while the trip might not be ideal, she does have good form over a mile and she ran well in the Irish Guineas over this distance.”

Peaceful, who beat Fancy Blue in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and was a close third to her in France, is one of three rivals trained by his father, Aidan. So Wonderful and Love Locket are his other runners with 11 declared in total.

Johnny Murtagh is hoping Know It All can repeat her run in the Prix Rothschild when she was only beaten three-quarters of a length in third place behind Watch Me.

“Know It All ran very well in the Rothschild in France, so the plan was always to come back to the Matron,” he said.

“She’s fresh and well – she’s the best horse we have in the stable. I thought if we had a good horse this year, it was her.

“She ran well last year and just got caught in a Group Three, but this year has gone quite smoothly for her. Her first run was nice, she won a Group Three the next time, so we’re all guns blazing towards the Matron Stakes.

“She’s a very big filly, good breeding. Sheikh Fahad owns her and she has a good sire (Lord Kanaloa) – I didn’t know much about him, but he’s one of the top stallions in Japan.

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“I think she’s going there with a great chance. She has to improve seven to 10lb to be involved in the finish with all the good fillies’ that are in it.”

Murtagh also saddles Champers Elysees, who has won her last three races culminating in a Group Three at Gowran Park.

“When she won at the Curragh, I thought ‘this one will get some black type’. She was supposed to be sold, but the deal fell through,” he said.

“Her performance in Galway blew me away. I was very surprised the way that she won, the way she travelled and the way she quickened on ground that we weren’t sure about.

“Since Galway she’d had very clear run – it’s been smooth, her work has been good and she hasn’t missed a day. At the start of the year, did I think she would be rated 110? No, but she has a great heart. She’s always been a couple of lengths behind Know It All, but she’s getting closer now.

“She has to improve seven to 10lb again and it’s her first time over a mile.”

O’Brien senior is happy to give Vatican City another chance in the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile.

“We went a mile and a half in the Derby and it was probably too far,” he said.

“We brought him back to a mile at Goodwood and he got galloped into going down the hill. A shoe got pulled off and he lost his action quickly. It was a non-event and we learnt nothing from it. He’s very well.”

The Ballydoyle handler also has Lancaster House and Royal Dornoch in the 10-runner field.

Ken Condon is hoping Trais Fluors will put his best foot forward.

“If you look at his form when he was trained by a master in Andre Fabre, he didn’t win enough,” he said.

“He’s good at coming third or fourth and we often joke ourselves that he could be third in a Group One and be third in a claimer – he’s just that type of horse.

“If everything fell right and he’s in good humour and on a going day, he’s a talented sort of horse. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet – he’s mercurial, but he has enough ability to run well.”

British interests rest with John Quinn’s Safe Voyage, the David O’Meara-trained Escobar and Century Dream, representing Simon and Ed Crisford.

O’Brien senior feels Tiger Moth’s class will stand him in good stead in the Group Three Paddy Power “Is It 2021 Yet?” Stakes.

The Galileo colt was just beaten by his stablemate Santiago in the Irish Derby on only his third start and has his first race since then.

“He’s good. He’s had a nice long break and is in good form. We think he’s a mile-and-a-quarter, mile-and-a-half horse,” he said.

“He has a little bit of class.”

Tiger Moth now takes on older horses, including Buckhurst and Patrick Sarsfield.

Murtagh steps Fourhometwo up into Group Three company in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes after opening his account on his second start at Galway after a sound debut run when runner-up at Gowran.

“He was still a bit green at Galway, a bit raw and learning on the job, but he’s a gorgeous horse and is owned by some really nice people that I met out in Australia,” said Murtagh.

“He’s a talented horse and we will find out how good he is.”

There are plenty of promising types among the 10 runners, including the Joseph O’Brien-trained pair of Liffey River and Snapraeterea.

“Both have earned their place in the race and we’re hoping they can run with credit in what looks a good race,” he said.