Qipco Irish Champion Stakes
|Group 1, Leopardstown 18:45
1m 2f, Class 1
|Saturday 10th September 2016|
1 Almanzor 7/1
2 Found 7/1
3 Minding 9/4
NR: The Grey Gatsby (IRE)
12 ran Distances: ¾l, 2¾l, 1¾l
TIME 2m 8.93s (slow by 6.43s)
Almanzor wins Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown
Almanzor became the first French winner of the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes for 25 years when coming out on top in a thrilling renewal of the Leopardstown showpiece.
Suave Dancer took the prestigious prize for John Hammond in 1991 and the 7-1 chance made the wait worthwhile with a superb performance in a race that lived up to all its billing.
Trainer Jean Claude-Rouget has enjoyed a stellar year and Christope Soumillon brought the Wootton Bassett colt with a determined run down the outside to edge out Found, who also finished second in the race 12 months ago.
It momentarily looked as though the consistent filly, ridden here by Frankie Dettori who was deputising for Seamie Heffernan, was going to see the colt off and gain a deserved win but Almanzor was firmly on top in the final yards, scoring by three-parts of a length.
The pair finished two and a quarter lengths clear of Minding in third who hadn't enjoyed the easiest of passages throughout the race under Ryan Moore but didn't show her trademark turn of foot when in the clear.
Last year's French Derby winner, New Bay, finished fourth but this year's dual English and Irish Derby winner Harzand - sent off the 2/1 favourite - failed to get competitive on this drop in trip having been under pressure early on.
Soumillon said: "He's a great horse. I've won on him a few times and I knew today he was going to run a great race.
"It was not easy before the race to think that we were going to win it, because it was a really tough Irish Champion Stakes, but we got lucky that the pace was strong and he was very relaxed at the back.
"When I asked him to go he had a strong turn of foot. I was very confident, but when I saw Frankie coming on the inside, I knew he was going to give me a hard time for a couple of hundred metres because I know Found and she's very strong as well.
"However, only champions can win a race like this and I'm so pleased to ride him."
Rouget said: "He's a fantastic horse. I was very relaxed like him in the first part of the race. When I saw him coming on the outside I thought he could challenge for the victory and he did.
"He doesn't look very tired after the race. Christophe told me it was quite an easy race for him.
"After Qemah (third in Matron Stakes) we were a bit disappointed and I told him only one word - relax. When your horse is relaxed you can finish and that was not the case with Qemah.
"She was in the middle of the pack and she couldn't finish like we hoped she would.
"He looks to have had quite an easy race, but it's a race, and it was a good one.
"When I saw the field before the race with all these champions I thought 7-1 was a bit too much. But after the race I think the betting was good.
"We'll see now if he goes to Ascot (Champion Stakes) or to Chantilly for the Arc. We'll decide after a good night!
"For me at the beginning we chose this race because I thought he was more a mile-and-a-quarter horse, but with the champions you can do anything."
"The horses that the market expected to come to the fore may not have been involved at the finish but Found is a decent yardstick for the level and nearly provided another remarkable chapter in Frankie Dettori's career.
"Almanzor is a Classic winner in his own right though and was well on top at the line, certainly offering hope that he'll see out the extra quarter-mile in the Arc and we've cut him to 5/1 from 16s.
"He's also 5/1 for the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot if connections opt to stay at 10 furlongs."
"It was an evenly-run race. Highland Reel sat handy and the fillies sat mid-division and Sir Isaac Newton was towards the back.
"It was a big field and in a competitive race like that you don't always get a clear run.
"The plan always with Found was to go for the Arc after this and I imagine that will probably be the way with her.
"Minding got a few fairly tough bumps, but that's the way it is in a big field like that and she ran very well.
"I imagine she might go again. She's hardy and she's well. She had a good break coming into this."
Dual Derby winner Harzand was well-beaten in eighth place and his jockey Pat Smullen looked after Dermot Weld's star colt in the closing stages.
"When I knew he wasn't going to win today I looked after him," he said. "Unfortunately he hadn't got the pace early to get into the position we wanted to be in.
"At the furlong pole I accepted I wasn't going to get anything today, so I had to think of the next day. He hasn't run a bad race and it's probably the best race I've ever ridden in.
"He'll bounce back and I think back at a mile and a half we'll see the best of him.
"A furlong down when I realised I wasn't going to achieve anything today I was thinking of the Arc."
QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1)
1m 2f , Race Value: €1,250,000
Going: Good, Good to Yielding in places
|Pos||Dr||Dis||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||(10)||Almanzor (FR) 7/1||C Soumillon
|J C Rouget||3|
|2nd||(4)||¾||Found (IRE) 7/1||L Dettori
|A P O'Brien||4|
|3rd||(7)||2¾||Minding (IRE) 9/4||R L Moore
|A P O'Brien||3|
|4th||(12)||1¾||New Bay 9/1||V Cheminaud
|5th||(13)||½||My Dream Boat (IRE) 33/1||A Kirby
|C G Cox||4|
|6th||(8)||nk||Moonlight Magic 50/1||K J Manning
|J S Bolger||3|
|7th||(6)||½||Highland Reel (IRE) 10/1||C O'Donoghue
|A P O'Brien||4|
|8th||(3)||¾||Harzand (IRE) 2/1f||P J Smullen
|D K Weld||3|
|9th||(2)||4½||Hawkbill (USA) 16/1||W Buick
|10th||(5)||3||Sir Isaac Newton 33/1||D O'Brien
|A P O'Brien||4|
|11th||(9)||8||Success Days (IRE) 33/1||S Foley
|K J Condon||4|
|12th||(11)||34||Ebediyin (IRE) 200/1||L F Roche
|D K Weld||3|
|NR||(1)||The Grey Gatsby (IRE) 25/1||D P McDonogh
|K A Ryan||5|