Haydock stages the track’s only Group 1 race on Saturday in the Sprint Cup but Irish Champions weekend begins at Leopardstown and the highlight is the Champions Stakes. Churchill looks a good thing for that race while Winter is the worthy favourite to win the Matron Stakes. The double on both horses pays 3/1 at best odds.
The racing moves to the Curragh on Sunday and you can get all the best bets with our Irish Champions Weekend Special: CLICK HERE!
Champions Weekend is a concept designed to bring together the best Flat horses in Ireland and attract runners from Britain and the rest of Europe. The first objective has been met because Churchill and Winter are Classic winners while Rhododendron and Cliffs Of Moher were placed this season in the races that matter most. All four horses are trained by Aiden O’Brien who could have a clean sweep of the five Group 1 races over the weekend. He is on track to break the world record for wins at the highest level in a calendar year.
Churchill is a three-year-old so gets six pounds from the older horses. Enable has shown this season that given the age allowance horses from the Classic generation can beat opponents aged four and older. Fillies get an extra three pounds but that concession has not tempted connections to run Winter in the Champion Stakes. It helps when in Churchill you have the market leader and Cliffs of Moher who was second in the English Derby.
Churchill and Winter both completed the English/Irish Guineas double. The former has subsequently been beaten at Royal Ascot and York but in races over seven furlongs and one mile two furlongs. The 2,000 Guineas is run over the straight mile at Newmarket which suits Churchill and the horse might not be best over different distances and types of track. The Irish Champion Stakes is run over 10 furlongs but on ratings Churchill can win the race.
Winter could face up to three stable mates in the Matron Stakes. Only fillies are eligible for the race but horses older than three carry five pounds more than the Classic horses from this year. On ratings Rhododendron is the horse most likely to beat Winter but Qemah is the best of the older horses. However, it would take an exceptional filly to beat Winter carrying that extra five pounds. Roly Poly is another O’Brien runner who could make the frame.
Harry Angel is an uneasy favourite for the Sprint Cup at Haydock. The horse won the July Cup at Newmarket which is the most prestigious sprint race in Europe. However, the ground has gone against Harry Angel and any soft in the going will be a negative. The horse for money has been Brando while punters have also shown some interest in Tasleet. Harry Angel is the best horse in the race and at some point the odds will represent value. He can deliver despite the going to complete a treble for the favourites in the three Group 1 races in Britain and Ireland on Saturday.