Al Kazeem can win the most prestigious Flat race in Ireland in preparation for trying to give the horse’s trainer his first win in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. Reckless Abandon looks the value bet to win the Betfred Sprint Cup, the only Group 1 Flat race that takes place at Haydock Park. Bet Enthusiast followers have been advised to back these horses to win but the safe option would be to couple them in an each-way double which would cover the stake if successful.
The Irish Champion Stakes is Ireland’s most significant Flat race and carries even more prestige than the Classics. The race is being run at Leopardstown on Saturday and should attract a huge crowd, no doubt hoping that Aiden O’Brien can win the race with one of six horses he declared to run earlier this week. Declaration Of War is the ante post favourite for the race but The Fugue has been backed since winning the Yorkshire Oaks at York two weeks ago.
At the time of writing there is some doubt about Al Kazeem’s participation. The horse still appeared in ante post lists on Wednesday morning but a run is very much ground dependent. Good ground is anticipated in Ireland this weekend which could be too quick for Al Kazeem and the horse would then be a doubtful runner. Backing the horse with bookmakers that offer non-runner/no bet is the best option.
Al Kazeem won three Group 1 races earlier this season and at the start of last month was joint favourite for the Arc. The run in third place behind Declaration Of War at York was slightly disappointing but not worthy of a drift in the betting for the Arc to double it’s odds before the York race. The horse is trained by Roger Charlton who believes it is the best ever in his care, and that includes Quest For Fame who won the Derby in 1990.
While the ground may not suit Al Kazeem, Declaration Of War will relish relatively fast underfoot conditions. That type of surface suited the horse at Royal Ascot and York, two meetings at which the animal won at the highest level. O’Brien could also run last year’s Derby winner, Camelot, while Trading Leather, who won the Irish equivalent this season, is also in the mix.
If Al Kazeem was withdrawn the British trained horse quoted at the lowest price ahead of the race would be The Fugue. The horse is a filly and would be looking to emulate Snow Fairy, the female winner of the race 12 months ago. The Fugue had no luck in running in the Oaks last season but ran to her best at York where she was very good on her favoured good ground which is expected at Leopardstown this Saturday.
Cirrus Des Aigles became the top rated horse in Europe when Frankel retired. The horse was beaten by Frankel by less than two lengths on Champion’s Day at Ascot last year. That form would make the horse favourite for the Irish Champion but several moderate runs this season suggest Cirrus Des Aigles has not maintained the form of a year ago. If running Al Kazeem then looks the most likely horse to beat the favourite.
Lethal Force is the favourite for the Betfred Sprint Cup and the horse’s position in the betting has been strengthened by the withdrawal of Society Rock, last year’s winner. Lethal Force won Group races at Royal Ascot and Newmarket before finishing second to Moonlight Cloud in France last month over six furlongs. Moonlight Cloud is not running at Haydock where Lethal Force can confirm its status as the best sprinter in Britain.
The biggest danger could be the stablemate, Reckless Abandon. Both horses are trained by Clive Cox but have different owners so the trainer will have mixed feelings if either horse wins the race. Society Rock will not run due to a training ground injury that caused concussion and on hearing that news bookmakers made Lethal Force a stronger favourite in their ante post books.
On form from last season Reckless Abandon has a huge chance and looks almost a bet to nothing to be placed. The horse won big sprints at Longchamp and Newmarket in 2012 but has had a light campaign this year, possibly to be primed for the race at Haydock. Reckless Abandon last raced at Royal Ascot, bypassing the July Cup because of a minor injury, but brings Group 1 form to the race.
On two year old form Reckless Abandon looks over priced but has to reproduce that form at Haydock. The horse was the third highest ranked juvenile in Britain and Ireland last season, with only Dawn Approach and Olympic Glory earning a higher rating. Both those horses have excelled at three which suggests Reckless Abandon has more to come in terms of form at the same age.
Reckless Abandon has run just two times this season. He has course experience at Haydock as he was third in a big sprint at the track in May, the first defeat of his career. Reckless Abandon led the field approaching the final furlong in the Kings Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot but faded to finish fifth. However, in the context of Saturday’s race that was fine form and he would only have to run a few pounds better to win at Haydock.
Our tip for the Betfred Sprint is proven at Group 1 level, winning a top class race in France when ridden by Gerald Mosse. The French rider will be on board on Saturday as he tries to maintain his unbeaten record on the horse and ride it to win a fourth Group race. With decent racing in France this weekend it is significant that Mosse will be riding in England.
As we now enter the part of the calendar that includes championship Flat races across Europe, two horses will be looking to confirm their ability at Group 1 level and its 33/1 that Al Kazeem and Reckless Abandon both win their respective races on Saturday.