IT’S all eyes on Leopardstown today. It’s the only show in town. The action is worthy of such attention, with a headline act of an Irish Champion Stakes (3.45) backed up by an intriguing Matron Stakes (4.55). Both races revolve around their favourites.
Vadeni has been earmarked for Dublin more or less all season. Jean-Claude Rouget has been there and done it with Almanzor and he is stuck to a tried and tested route for the Aga Khan-owned colt, who can bolster his stallion credentials today. However, there is more on the line than that alone.
British and Irish trainers have been making hay in the green fields of France for a few seasons now, plundering group race after group race. Indeed, there has been 16 Group 1 races in France this season and just three of them have been won by home-trained horses. Two of the three are here today, the hot favourite and Onesto, who is not to be underrated.
Fabrice Chappet’s colt couldn’t get close to Vadeni in the Prix du Jockey Club - no one could - but he was fighting a losing battle after a tardy start from a wide draw and did well in the circumstances to finish third. He showed how good he is then when winning the Grand Prix de Paris, fending off the foreign radars on Bastille Day. Don’t discount him producing a big performance today.
But Vadeni is the main hope. Ridden by one of racing’s biggest showmen in Christophe Soumillon - watch out for the celebration if he passes the line in front - the Churchill colt bids to make it three Group 1s in a row, and already has a win over his closest rival in the betting, having seen off Mishriff in the Eclipse.
Now, that race deserves more than a line, because it’s hard to watch it back and not conclude John and Thady Gosden’s colt should have won. Native Trail’s ducking to the right hemmed David Egan in on the five-year-old at a crucial stage, and that was probably the difference in the end. Unfortunately for the young Irish jockey, he hasn’t ridden Mishriff since, with the Irish champion Colin Keane called in to take over from the previous deputising James Doyle today.
Vadeni has the natural improvement that a three-year-old colt with just seven starts should have. Mishriff sets the standard as a triple Group 1-winning older horse. And don’t forget Luxembourg. You’d be forgiven of that considering he unfortunately missed most of the season following a setback after the Guineas, where he’d finished third and earned very short quotes for the Derby.
Back on track in the Royal Whip, he just got home from Insinuendo when reportedly not race-fit, so there is reason to believe he can deliver on his potential now.
We haven’t seen Homeless Songs in a long time either. All of 111 days to be exact but she had already delivered on her potential with a sensational five-length win in the Irish 1000 Guineas. The plan was to miss high summer and the rain that has fallen in the capital this week is likely to render the ground to be as neutral as possible, which will have pleased her connections.
Again, the involvement of a foreign raider really makes this race, with Jane Chapple-Hyam sending over her dual Group 1 winner Saffron Beach, who has a found a new level this season. She will make it a tough test for the favourite on her comeback.
FOLLOWING the death of Queen Elizabeth on Thursday, the BHA again decided to call off all racing today, including the high profile St Leger card at Doncaster, which has been moved to a revised programme tomorrow.
Doncaster will host a nine-race card which features all the races from the Saturday card plus the Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes and Group 2 Doncaster Cup, with action underway from 12.30.
When you combine the high quality Doncaster card with the Curragh and Arc trials day at ParisLongchamp, it’s a feast of action that includes six Group 1 races, seven Group 2s and two Group 3s.
The Cazoo St Leger will take place at 3.55, sandwiched in between the National Stakes (3.35) and Irish St Leger (4.10) in a golden 35 minutes. Indeed, it could get interesting for bookmakers with short-priced favourites likely to prove popular with accumulator punters throughout the day.
Highfield Princess (7/4 - Flying Five), Meditate (10/11 - Moyglare), Aesop’s Fables (5/6 - National), Kyprios (8/15 - Irish St Leger), New London (10/11 - St Leger) and Tuesday (7/4 - Prix Vermeille) are the favourites for all six Group 1s. Just in case you’re wondering, the accumulator pays just over 67/1.