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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Greg Wood

Talking Horses: Aidan O’Brien faces tough Irish Champion Stakes field

Auguste Rodin
Auguste Rodin wins the Irish Derby at Curragh in July. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/INPHO/Shutterstock

Aidan O’Brien has won the Irish Champion Stakes for the past four seasons and a record 11 times in all, but his main contenders for this year’s renewal at Leopardstown on Saturday both have questions to answer on their recent form and the value may lie elsewhere.

Auguste Rodin has won the Derby and Irish Derby on two of his four starts this year but has been bitterly disappointing on the other two, while Luxembourg – a narrow winner of this race 12 months ago – has struggled to reach a similar level of form since.

At the likely odds, Luxembourg makes most appeal of the O’Brien pair, but this is a highly competitive renewal, with seven of the nine runners on offer at 10-1 or shorter and only 3lb separating the best half-dozen on Timeform ratings.

King Of Steel, the Derby runner-up, could well appreciate this drop back to 10 furlongs but is half the price of runners such as Nashwa and Onesto, who have a very similar chance on paper, and Fabrice Chappet’s runner in particular may have been overlooked in the market.

Still lightly raced for a four-year-old, Onesto (nap 3.20) hit the front in the final furlong in this race last year only to be run down close to home by Luxembourg.

He has valid excuses for defeat in all three of his runs since – including trouble in running in the Arc and Japan Cup – and is a big price at around 7-1 to give Frankie Dettori his first win in Ireland’s premier all-aged race since Golden Horn in 2015.

Kempton 1.35 The drop in class should be enough for Bay Bridge, last year’s Champion Stakes winner, to notch a first win of the season.

Haydock 1.50 A repeat of last month’s third place in the Prix Jacques le Marois should suffice for Light Infantry.

Kempton 2.10 Botas is big at around 16-1 after a course-and-distance win in a well-run race last time.

Haydock 2.25 A slow start left Lordship in a tough spot last time but he stayed on well into fourth and a 1lb rise is offset by Adam Farragher’s 3lb claim.

Ascot 2.35 William Buick is two from three on Spangled Mac and they can defy a 3lb rise for last month’s Newbury success.

Leopardstown 2.45 Tahiyra’s only – narrow – defeat was in the 1,000 Guineas in May and a Group One hat-trick beckons.

Brighton 2.20 Free Step 2.55 Miguel 3.30 Line Of Fire 4.05 Control 4.40 Swing To The Stars 5.15 Lethal Angel  5.45 Run Cmc

Perth 2.30 Lord Sam’s Castle 3.05 A Different Kind 3.40 Beauty To Behold 4.15 Rakhine State 4.47 Wasdell Dundalk 5.22 Headscarf Lil 

Newton Abbot 2.40 Ya Know Yaseff 3.15 Way Out 3.50 Investment Manager 4.25 Slate Lane 5.00 Wilderness 5.35 Bradford Lady 

Newcastle 4.55 Krona 5.30 Irv 6.00 Speed Court 6.30 Polly The Rocket 7.00 Aurora Glory 7.30 Show Compassion (nb) 8.00 Nazca 8.30 Glorious Rio (nap)

Haydock 3.00 Aztec Empire looked unlucky last time and can make amends here off a 3lb higher mark.

Ascot 3.10 Fast-improving Gallant Lion defied a 7lb hike last time and a further 3lb rise may not be enough to deny him a five-timer.

Catterick 1.30 Let Her Loose 2.05 Galileo Glass 2.40 Della 3.10 Wade’s Magic 3.40 Propogation 4.15 Birkenhead (nap) 4.50 Highfield Viking (nb)

Leicester 1.40 Twilight Guest 2.15 Soft Winds 2.50 Autumn Rose 3.25 Cool Dividend 4.00 Haarar 4.35 Miss Bluebelle 5.10 Moulin Booj

Worcester 1.50 Lusitanien 2.25 Shot Tower 3.00 Painless Potter 3.30 Marvel Star 4.05 Karavomylos 4.40 Emanate

Kelso 4.25 Czech Her Out 5.00 City Vaults 5.35 Johnson’s Blue 6.05 Sword Of Fate 6.35 Imperial Data 7.05 Jimmy Rabbitte

Haydock 3.35 Quirky but hugely talented, Shaquille has emerged as the best six-furlong performer around this summer and Julie Camacho’s colt should extend his win streak to seven with a third straight Group One success.

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