“Win and You’re In” berths also on the line in Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes and KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes
LEOPARDSTOWN, Ire. – Three Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races will be featured at Leopardstown on Saturday, with the Irish Champion Stakes (G1) as the standout race of an exceptional afternoon of racing. Godolphin’s Ghaiyyath (IRE) heads the field for the 1 ¼-mile Irish Champion Stakes and the winner will gain an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) through the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is a series of stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into corresponding races of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which is scheduled to be held at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, on Nov. 6-7.
Saturday’s action highlights the first of five Breeders’ Cup Challenge races to be held in Ireland this weekend. “Win and You’re In” berths also will be awarded at Leopardstown to the winner of the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes (G1) – which features dual Group 1 stakes-winning mare Fancy Blue (IRE) – providing that runner with an automatic starting position into the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), and the winner of the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (G2) will earn a free spot into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).
Top Group 1 action continues at The Curragh on Sunday with the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five (G1), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, followed by the Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1), whose winner will gain an automatic entry in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).
Ghaiyyath, a 5-year-old son of Dubawi (IRE), is the odds-on favorite to continue his brilliant season over five rivals. On his latest start, he extended his winning streak to four after galloping his rivals into submission in the Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) at York in August, a victory that secured him a guaranteed start in the US$7 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
Ghaiyyath’s trainer Charlie Appleby, a three-time Breeders’ Cup-winning trainer, decided on Thursday morning to declare the highest rated horse in the world after a gallop at home. He said: “It was a routine piece of work to check his wellbeing and he’s come through it without a worry. It wasn’t strong work, more a breeze, which is normal procedure three days before a race. He’s telling us that he’s ready for another big race.”
Appleby, who stated after the Juddmonte International that the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf would be Ghaiyyath’s most likely target at the 2020 Breeders’ Cup, continued: “He’s going to Leopardstown in as good a condition as we’ve ever had him. I’m as pleased with him as I was before the Juddmonte International at York, where I thought he was very professional. He showed his maturity and I think he’s got better with every race.
“He travels to Ireland at the peak of his career, unbeaten in four starts this year, three of them Group 1s. Two of them were officially rated the best performances globally in 2020,” added Appleby, referring to the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.
Ghaiyyath will once again be ridden by William Buick, who has partnered him in his last 10 races, after special dispensation was given to elite sportspeople to not carry out a 14-day quarantine when arriving in Ireland.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien fields three against the Godolphin star, led by last year’s winner Magical (IRE), who finished second to Ghaiyyath at York, the 2019 Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) winner Japan (GB) and Armory (IRE).
Ghaiyyath is not the only international challenger, with Jean-Claude Rouget sending over two-time Group 1 winner Sottsass (FR). The trainer won the race with Almanzor in 2016. The Jessica Harrington-trained Leo De Fury (IRE) completes the six-runner field.
Fancy Blue bids for Group 1 Hat Trick in Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes
Classic winners Fancy Blue (IRE) and Peaceful (IRE) lead the way in the fillies and mares 1-mile showpiece. The winner of the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes (G1) gains an automatic berth into the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
The Donnacha O’Brien-trained Fancy Blue, owned by Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor, was second to Peaceful, trained by father Aidan, in the Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) at The Curragh, but came back to defeat Peaceful in the Prix de Diane Longines (G1) at Chantilly. Fancy Blue then won the July 30 Qatar Nassau Stakes (G1) at Goodwood last time out.
The daughter of Deep Impact (JPN) drops back to 1 mile from 1 ¼ miles. Donnacha O’Brien said: “Fancy Blue starts out on her autumn campaign in the Matron Stakes and while the trip might not be ideal, she does have good form over a mile and she ran well in the Irish Guineas over this distance.
The “Win and You’re In” KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (G2) over 1 mile will award the first automatic starting berth into this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. The Harrington-trained Cadillac (IRE) heads the field along with course and distance winner Fernando Vichi (IRE) and Ides Of August (USA), trained by Donnacha O’Brien and Ger Lyons, respectively.
Photo courtesy of York Racecourse