Irish Champion Stakes Day

We have a cracking weekend of action in Ireland to look forward to this week, with top class cards on both Saturday and Sunday. The headline act on Saturday is this 1m2f event which has been won by some of the real legends of the game over the years, including super sire Sadler’s Wells in 1984 and the brilliant Golden Horn in 2015.

QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (Leopardstown) Preview & Betting Tips – Saturday 9th September 2017

Race Analysis

Being 4lbs clear of the field on official ratings and receiving 3lbs and more from all bar fellow three year olds, Eminent, Taj Mahal and Cliffs Of Moher, it’s not hard to see why Aidan O’Brien’s Churchill is the clear market leader here. Seven from 10 in his career to date, including four wins at the highest level, his first real setback came two starts back in the St. James Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot where he put in a lifeless display to finish a well beaten fourth to Barney Roy. He took a step back in the right direction when second to Ulysses last time out in what was his first crack at the distance and ought to go close.

Eminent didn’t quite cut it in the 2000 Guineas or Derby following what was a most impressive win in the Craven Stakes, but there may yet be more to come from this son of Frankel. He certainly seemed well suited to this trip when making all in a Group 3 at Deauville last time out. Frankie Dettori takes the ride and he shouldn’t be too far away.

Sir Michael Stoute has taken this twice in the past, but not since 1997 and will be hopeful that Poet’s Word can end that drought here. Twice a winner over this trip at handicap level, he posted the best effort of his career when upped to 1m4f to land a Group 3 last time out at Goodwood. He does have it to do on official ratings but is on an upward curve and won’t be beaten for a lack of stamina.

The Derby has been a fair pointer to success here over the years, and whilst we don’t have the winner going to post this year, we do have the runner up in Aidan O’Brien’s Cliffs Of Moher. The son of Galileo gets his third crack at the trip here, and whilst he has come a little short so far, he may be worth giving one last chance. His effort in the Coral-Eclipse can be safely ignored as did well to stay on the course at all due to some serious scrimmaging with Decorated Knight, whilst last time out in the Juddmonte International he appeared to do too much in front and may fare better if held up for a late run here.

Betting Tips

Churchill is probably the class act of the field but we are reluctant to take odds-on about a runner whose only previous effort at the distance resulted in a two length defeat. At the prices, we prefer an each way punt on his stablemate Cliffs Of Moher. The three year old hasn’t really had the cards fall right at this trip just yet but his Derby effort remains a rock solid run and we see him at least making the frame at 10/1 with Bet365.


Matron Stakes (Leopardstown) Preview & Betting Tips – Saturday 10th September 2016

The highly regarded Qemah leads the betting for this Saturday’s Matron Stakes, which takes place at Leopardstown on the opening day of the Irish Champions Weekend.

This race has undergone quite a few changes since its inaugural race. It was formerly a Group 3 event called the Gilltown Stud Stakes and took place at The Curragh. In 2004 it was bumped up in class and has remained a Group 1 race ever since which has helped it attract some of the best fillies and mares around, with this year being no exception.

Race Analysis

There has been a strong lane bias in this race. In every running since 2004 when there has been nine or more runners, the winner has started from stalls one to four. Although we haven’t quite got nine runners this time, it still is a very strong trend which may shape the outcome of this eight-horse race.

No trainer has been able to dominate the Matron Stakes in recent times but there have been those who have fared worse than others. Aidan O’Brien, who saddles Alice Springs this time, claimed his first victory in 2010 but he’s had so many entries in this race over the years that his record is a rather poor one.

Rarely a race for big priced winners, this is not a contest that throws up too many surprises, which makes backing the eventual winner that little bit easier. Only one victor in the past decade has been priced at odds of more than 6/1, with the favourite winning on four occasions in this time.

Betting Tips

Drawn in stall three for this race is Persuasive and perhaps being towards the inside may work to her advantage as it has done with so many runners here in the past. She has five wins from five so far but it’s important to bear in mind that this is her debut at Group 1, having only previously raced as high as Group 3. She looks more than ready for the step up though and another one mile race will be just right for her so she’s well worth backing for the win at 7/2 with Sky Bet.

Persuasive is likely to face a big challenge from the French filly Qemah (11/8, BetVictor) who is on the hunt for her third victory on the trot. This will be only her second race on this side of the Channel but her fantastic performance at Royal Ascot’s Coronation Stakes should downplay any fears she’ll not be able to put in a great performance in Ireland. She hasn’t been given the most ideal lane draw here though and with her sole win over one mile coming on softer going than we are in for this time, Persuasive makes for the better option.

If you are still after a more ambitious bet despite the lack of success outsiders have had in this race then an each way stake on Now Or Never (14/1, Betfair) seems to be the best option going. Her last appearance, which was three months ago, saw her finish a very respectful fourth at the Coronation Stakes. It looks as though Michael O'Callaghan has been saving the three year old for this race and with the going likely to suit, she looks capable of making the frame here.