Gleneagles vs Golden Horn (weather permitting)
Aidan O’Brien is keeping his fingers crossed the weather will allow Gleneagles to step up to 10 furlongs for the first time in next month’s Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
Aidan O’Brien said: “It’s obviously going to be weather dependent, but we have some nice horses to run (on Irish Champions Weekend). Gleneagles is the main one. If the ground stays good and fast, we will look forward to seeing him run.
“I think (Leopardstown will suit him). He’s a fast horse. Obviously we’re not sure about the mile and a quarter.
“The first time he ran, he ran at Leopardstown and he got beat, but it was first time out so we’ll learn a lot more.
“I suppose the exciting thing is to see how he handles a mile and a quarter. He’s by Galileo out of a full sister to Giant’s Causeway and he’s very like Giant’s Causeway.
“The ground will be important to him to give him a fair shot.”
Last year’s Irish Champion Stakes was run on good to firm ground with Sea The Stars victory in 2009 coming on the most testing ground in the past six renewals, with conditions still only good to yielding on that occasion.
O’Brien is hoping that weather pattern will come into force again this term.
He said: “The ground is still OK. The rain looks like it could come, but you never know. Last year Leopardstown was good, fast ground so hopefully it could happen again. Usually the couple of weeks after Leopardstown it gets soft and the rain really comes.”
Gleneagles is one of a handful of stellar names in contention for the richly-endowed event, with Prince Of Wales’s Stakes hero Free Eagle another prominent contender
His trainer Dermot Weld has yet to win the Irish Champion Stakes and Free Eagle is reported in fine condition as he prepares to potentially lock horns with not only Gleneagles, but also Golden Horn and possibly Arabian Queen, who lowered the Investec Derby winner’s colours in the Juddmonte International.
“It could turn out to be the race of the year. Everybody seems to be coming to Leopardstown and rightly so,” said Weld’s son and assistant, Mark.
“We really want to be in the thick of it. We really hope to be fighting it out and we are going to give it a good shot.
“The Irish Champion is the one Group One in the Irish calendar Dad has never won. He really wants to win this race. The horses that can win this race are far and few between and he is a horse that can win this race.
“The likes of Golden Horn and Gleneagles are damned good. They are way above average. I wouldn’t be disappointed if one of them happened not to come, but it’s going to be a huge race.
“We are going to have to bring our A-plus game to win and hopefully we will be able to do that.”
Golden Horn 2/1 – BET HERE!
Free Eagle 5/2 – BET HERE!
Gleneagles 4/1 – BET HERE!