Winter Is Coming For Champions Weekend

Aidan O’Brien has 34 runners on Irish Champions Weekend, a fixture at which he has enjoyed nine winners across the 48 races since it began.

O’Brien hasn’t yet dominated Irish Champions Weekend like many may have predicted would be the case and could struggle to get it all his own way again this year – but he is responsible for the best bet of the opening day.

Winter Is Here
We won’t beat around the bush and pretend otherwise but few outside of the confines of Coolmore and Ballydoyle didn’t want Winter taking on the colts in the Champion Stakes. What a race it would have been. With Enable, Winter is up there with the best around this year and in the eyes of many, would have taken some beating in the feature race of the weekend.

However, following a short break after Goodwood, Winter was deemed a bit short of cherry ripe to be taking on such an engagement but instead Group 1 honours will come her way in the Matron Stakes and…

you can have what you like on her at the 10/11 available.

Dropping back to a mile, with an ease in the ground, taking on the likes of Persuasive and Qemah as well as a host of her own stable companions, none of that is an issue for this superstar who can win at a mile just as well as she can at a mile and a quarter and handles it soft underfoot like she does when it is quick.

There’s just been no stopping her since the Guineas and this can be a fourth consecutive win at Group 1 level for the filly who has a busy autumn ahead by the sounds of her trainer.

leops - curragh

V for Churchill
BoyleSports were best priced at 11/10 on Churchill last night for the Irish Champion Stakes and he gets a more tentative nod for this than his stable companion Winter did for her assignment. The race looks ideal for Eminent and Martyn Meade and he was definitely the each-way play at 8/1 last week, and for some, at 4/1 he is probably still value to back each-way but…

Churchill can bounce back to winning ways here.

He was second to the leading colt around in Ulysses and if he was here he’d be the odds on favourite so Churchill is a worthy market leader and should shade this but O’Brien will have to work hard if he is to win an eighth renewal and a first since 2011.

Lucky Last
Duchess Of France looks a big price in the last for Adrian Keatley and Danny Sheehy at 20/1. She has gone up in the ratings for holding her own in stakes company and switches back to a handicap now but is 7lbs higher than her last appearance at the same level.

However, since finishing third at the Curragh in July, Duchess Of France has looked to improve, finishing third twice at list level and then being outclassed in a Group 3 last week at Tipperary and with Danny Sheehy’s claim she is effectively back running off her old handicap mark and that could be enough to see her involved here.

Tempera, the maiden course and distance winner is the obvious threat for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen. She was just over three lengths ahead of Duchess Of France last week in that Group 3 but on that occasion, Duchess Of France had to give her 5lbs and now meets her 15lbs better off which is a massive swing.

Keatley has had a few setbacks this season but his horses have been knocking on the door and none more so than this filly and at that sort of price she can’t be ignored in a competitive handicap.

Good Spotting By O’Brien
With so much focus on Champions Weekend, BoyleSports ambassador Joseph O’Brien is sneaking over to the all-weather at Kempton for a Group 3 and surely at 14/1 True Blue Moon is overpriced. This looks a good bit of placing by the trainer.

On a line of form with Masar, Invincible Army is a worthy favourite for Kempton’s feature on Saturday, but True Blue Moon is a two-time winner over five and didn’t run a bad race at Royal Ascot over the same trip. Beckford could well become a Group 1 winner on Sunday and he wasn’t disgraced behind him in a Group 2 last time and this drop in class could see him have a say. His price of 14/1 looks too big.

Recommended Bets:
Winter (10/11) – 5.35 Leopardstown
Churchill (11/10) – 6.45 Leopardstown
Duchess Of France (20/1) – 7.20 Leopardstown
True Blue Moon (14/1) – 4.25 Kempton

*Prices correct at time of publication.