Qipco Irish Champion Stakes
If Leapardstown didn't get too much rain overnight then we will have potentially the race of the season tomorrow afternoon. The going was good to firm, firm in places and the forecast is for the rain to stop by early morning. If that's the case it hopefully won't have too much an effect on the going as Gleneagles definitely won't run on anything worse then good going.
The favourite is the outstanding three year old of the season Golden Horn. He was the quite brilliant winner of the Dante and the Derby beating the top class Jack Hobbs on both occasions, and he also beat his elders with a stylish showing in the Eclipse. His defeat on his latest run in the Juddmonte was a shock, but the soft ground was against him as was his refusal to settle.
Dermot Weld's Free Eagle won the Prince of Wales Stakes at Ascot in June just beating The Grey Gatsby by a short head. He is lightly raced for a four year old and there is plenty of room for further improvement. However, on that run he has plenty to find to get to Golden Horn so the improvement would need to be massive.
Gleneagles hasn't been seen since winning The St James Palace Stakes at Ascot in June. Subsequent engagements have been thwarted by the weather as connections will not risk him on soft ground. Prior to Ascot he was the impressive winner of both the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas and has shaped as if the extra two furlongs wouldn't be a problem. Aiden O'Brien has continually said he is a mile horse but if the pace is steady here the extra distance shouldn't be an issue. Whether or not he will have the pace to stay with Golden Horn remains to be seen however.
Found was second in the 1,000 Guineas and again in the Coronation Stakes at Ascot. She then went one better when stepping up to ten furlongs at the Curragh but it was only a three runner race and she didn't beat too much. She does get the fillies allowance here but has plenty to find on official ratings and it's hard to make a big case for her.
Jim Bolger's Pleascach beat Found in the 1,000 Guineas and has run creditably since. Like Found it is hard to make too much of a case for her but to be double the price of Found appears overpriced to me. Therefore if wanting to back one of the fillies, she would be the value. Saying this, I don't think either will be good enough to make the frame.
The Grey Gatsby is an excellent gutsy horse and won this race last year beating the heavily odds on favourite Australia. He has already been beaten twice by Golden Horn however and one of those in the Juddmonte when Golden Horn was clearly below par, so it is hard to get too excited about his chances in this race.
Cirres Des Aigles is anther Group 1 winner and showed he stills possess ability by beating Al Kazeem at Longchamp in May. He was firmly put in his place by the impressive Solow on his latest start however and I don't think he is good enough to figure in the business end of this race.
Highland Reel completes the line up and is the outsider of the eight. He is the obvious third string of the O'Brien trio and will be used to keep the pace as Gleneagles wants it.
I think as long as the ground stays on the firm side of good will we see Golden Horn and Gleneagles battling it out at the finish and I think Golden Horn will prove too strong. He won the Derby over two furlongs further than this and one mile two furlongs is his best trip whereas Gleneagles is untried over further than a mile. Although I am sure he will get the trip I can't see him being able to keep with Golden Horn all the way to the line and the best price 2/1 is a cracking price on such a good horse.
The big match of the weekend is at Old Trafford where Man Utd host Liverpool in what is always one of the most anticipated match ups of the season. Both teams have had indifferent starts to the season and they sit level on seven points from four games. David de Gea has just signed a new contract after his move to Madrid fell through at the last minute and I assume he will come straight into the starting line up, this will be a big plus for Utd.
These games are always impossible to call and today's is no different. One bet that does stand out for me though is in the 'to be carded market'. Bastian Schweinsteiger has a good chance of starting this one as Michael Carrick pulled out of the England squad with injury and if he does, he's a prime candidate to be booked. He is still coming to terms with the pace of the Premier League and he doesn't take any prisoners.
You can get an amazing 7/1 on Utd or 12/1 on Liverpool with Coral's fantastic offer to new customers.
Leopardstown 17:45 Golden Horn - 3 points @ 2/1 (Paddy Power, William Hill, Betfred)
Man Utd v Liverpool - Bastian Schweinsteiger to be shown a card - 1 point @ 12/5 (Betvictor) Only a selection if he starts the match