As we approach the end of the season (and the start of the jumps!), the stars are all reappearing for one final hurrah! First up is Irish Champions weekend, and we head to Leopardstown for a tasty looking Irish Champion Stakes. There’s also the small matter of the Sprint Cup at Haydock as well. Here’s this week’s four to follow.
Long Time, No Tah-see
2:45 – Coolmore ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes (Group One) – Tahiyra @ Evs (General)
Tahiyra is an undoubtable talent, but she’s only ran three times this season. Which makes her return to the track all the more tantalising. However, the Matron Stakes has the habit to throw up some real surprises. No favourite has won since Legatissimo in 2015, and has been the only favourite to win in the last 10 years. But Tahiyra is clear on ratings, versatile on ground with a slight bias to firmness, and has every right to be favourite, even after a period off the track.
To follow her in, Just Beautiful looked as though she could become a talking horse when winning the Lanwades Stud Stakes all the way back in May. But she’s been off the track for some time, and is making a crucial step up to Group One level. Her previous form says she’ll get the ground, and has a couple of decent formlines. Interesting at 9/1 (William Hill)
Not Just The Boys
3:20 – Irish Champion Stakes (Group One) – Nashwa @ 11/2 (General)
This looks, on paper, one of the races of the season. Two three-year-olds who have captured the racing world, plus plenty of Group One experience in the mix as well. But it’s Nashwa I’m drawn to after her performance in the International Stakes. Many people disregarded her, but she finished in between, arguably, the two best horses in the race. She was Only beaten by a length that day, and comes to Leopardstown with conditions on her side, plus John Gosden’s record in the race in recent years puts her in the frame and make the race her own.
Spare a thought for Luxembourg who seems to be totally disregarded, despite having a good career, three Group One’s including the race last year. He wasn’t up to standard, but you could argue he drops to a preferred trip here. And just because Ryan Moore is on the other horse, doesn’t necessarily means he’s on the right one. Each-way claims at 10/1 (William Hill, BetVictor, BetUK)
4:30 – Paddy Power Stakes (Group Three) – Al Aasy @ 11/4 (William Hill)
It beggars belief how Al Aasy is second favourite. His performances, whilst at Listed level, have been eye-catching and he steps up in trip for the first time since his reappearance in the Fred Archer. But he has narrowly been denied at the top level, and it’s that previous Group One experience that may just put him over the line against Adelaide River, who hasn’t won this season, or since his debut. Whilst Adelaide River has disappointed, Al Aasy has made smooth progress and can follow up here at Leopardstown.
Slam Dunk Finish
3:35 – Sprint Cup (Group One) – Shaquille @ Evs (William Hill, BetVictor)
Shaquille has very much picked up the gauntlet as the top sprinter of the season. From one Northern horse (Highfield Princess) to another, Shaquille has impressed with the turn of foot unlike any other sprinter at the top level. He may dwell at the start, but his jet engine propels him to the front to pick of those who are no match for him. And on paper, it looks another open and shut case.
Or does it? Sacred was incredibly unlucky at Royal Ascot when denied by 80/1 shot Khaadem, and has been out for revenge since. Whilst previous form suggests his best distance is over seven, on quicker ground it’s much better over six. It was evident when disappointing in the City of York Stakes last time out, and the quick turnaround plus drop in trip may give him a chance to spoil Shaq’s shindig. Next best in the field at 17/2 (William Hill)
The very best of luck!