The racing is coming thick and fast this weekend, with Saturday evening seeing the 41st renewal of the Irish Champion Stakes.
A field of 14 will go to post after contenders Ulysses and Deauville were withdrawn from the race.
It means Churchill heads into the Leopardstown showpiece head-and-shoulders above the rest at 4/5.
Aidan O’Brien’s charge has won on five of his six starts in Ireland and has to be respected on that form. But despite his two Guineas successes this season the jolly certainly isn’t bulletproof. Defeats in the Juddmonte and St James’s Palace Stakes leave the three-year-old’s favourite status open to question. And given that he’s yet to win over 1m2f we think it makes sense to oppose the son of Galileo.
Winter provides the most obvious opposition at 7/2. O’Brien’s second runner is looking for a five-timer after a quartet of Group 1 victories. The filly has beaten impressive opponents too. Roly Poly, Rhododendron and Blond Me have all been beaten by over 1l. She’s a progressive horse and should be able to handle the step up to 1m2f.
Eminent will be leading the charge against the O’Brien pair at 8/1. Martyn Meade’s colt is yet to land a Group 1 but his horses’s chances will be boosted by the softer ground, with rain set to fall on the Leopardstown course.
Poet’s Word (9/1) will be looking to continue Sir Michael Stoute’s success in Ireland. The Newmarket trainer has a 33% strike rate with four-year-olds and above on Irish turf in the past five years. He’s also had a further two runners record place finishes. Poet’s Word landed a Group 3 at Goodwood last time out and certainly has each-way claims.
Cliffs of Moher (12/1) can handle the distance but not the company. He’s come up short in three previous Group 1 attempts and is not fancied here either.
Benbatl (14/1) provides a decent each-way shout at tasty odds. The main Godolphin fancy lost no respect in finishing 11¼ behind middle distance star Enable last time out.
Success Days (16/1) appears far too inconsistent to mount a challenge. While Moonlight Magic (20/1) has been found wanting in Group company on numerous occasions. The pair will both need to run big races to be given any consideration.
Latest Ladbrokes Betting:
2017 Irish Champion Stakes
Churchill – 4/5
Winter – 7/2
Eminent – 8/1
Poet’s Word – 9/1
Cliffs of Moher – 12/1
Benbatl – 14/1
Success Days – 16/1
Moonlight Magic – 20/1
Click here for the latest Irish Champion Stakes odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing