The Irish Champion Stakes has been billed as another rematch between Al Kazeem and Declaration of War, but after her impressive rout in the Yorkshire Oaks it would be foolish to ignore The Fugue at 3/1 with Ladbrokes.
Recording a first win of the season in the Group 1 contest in August, John Gosden’s charge showed that she retains some of the ability that saw her run very well to claim third at last year’s Breeders Cup meeting.
A 12 ½ length defeat to Al Kazeem in the Eclipse Stakes earlier in the year was put down to something not being right in the horse. But the manner in which she cruised past the front-running Venus De Milo to land the York contest last time out showcased her talent.
With rain forecast to hit the Leopardstown area on Friday and Saturday, the ground could yet change from The Fugue’s favoured good to firm surface, to something with a bit more give. As long as the ground does not soften up too much, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s filly should go close. The track does drain particularly well so connections will be confident of a good run.
If that rain doesn’t materialise, Al Kazeem could yet miss the race with Roger Charlton blaming the three-time Group 1 winner’s defeat in the Juddmonte on the solid ground.
His conqueror that day, Declaration of War, will be the main danger. Two brilliant performances this season have illustrated the potential talent of Aiden O’Brien’s horse. And if a man knows how to train a winner in this race, it’s O’Brien. Six wins in the last ten renewals speaks for itself.
The Ballydoyle stable is also represented by last year’s Racing Post Trophy winner Kingsbarns, but this race looks too tough a task on his three-year-old debut.
Don’t rule out the ever consistent Trading Leather though. Jim Bolger’s tough colt has placed in the King George and the Juddmonte, after winning the Irish Derby. And at 6/1 he could represent a fair bit of value in this tricky contest.
But with a three pound weight allowance over the older horses, and experience in her favour over the Classic generation, The Fugue looks the pick to return across the Irish Sea victorious.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publish.