The month of September has some real treats in store for lovers of British and Irish horse racing with gems such as the Chester Stakes, Irish Cambridgeshire, Sprint Cup, St Leger and Matron Stakes scheduled. They’ll all be settled before we turn our attentions to Leopardstown.
The 2018 renewal of the much-loved Irish Champion Stakes takes place on Saturday, September 15 at the County Dublin course and the ante-post market currently being offered by bookmakers suggests we are in for a thrilling contest.
This Group One spectacle run over 1m 2f was first raced back in 1976 when Lester Piggott rode Malacate into the history books. 41 years later Decorated Knight joined that exclusive list of winners when scoring for Roger Charlton under the ride of Andrea Atzeni with a time of 2:08:36.
Who will be the latest team to capture the bulk of a staggering €1.25 million prize pool, €712,500 going to the winner? If you’re happy to place your trust in the hands of traders and follow their thinking, then Roaring Lion is the one to be on. He’s favourite across the board, bet365 offering a market-best price of 6/4 in the most recent horse racing odds.
It’s difficult to argue against that stance, too, with the jolly heading to track boasting some impressive stats. The eye-catching three-year-old colt has won six of his first ten outings, placing in the top trio another three times.
John Gosden’s grey made his bow with a win around Newmarket last summer in a Novice Stakes and he got a taste for the winning feeling, reeling off three victories in his first three starts before falling to Saxon Warrior, nudged by a head in the Racing Post Trophy Stakes at Doncaster over a mile in October.
It took over half a year before followers saw Roaring Lion back in the winner’s enclosure, cracking the Dante Stakes at York in May and he goes into the Irish Champion Stakes sniffing out a hat-trick, having won each of his last two.
The double started with a win in the Coral Eclipse when going to post a 7/4 bookies’ favourite and that was followed with a 3 ¼ length score over Poet’s Word to clinch the Group One Juddmonte only last month off a handy SP 3/1.
If following the market, backers will not only be excited by Roaring Lion’s form, they’ll also take heart from trainer John Gosden’s past efforts in this race. The 67-year-old has won some major titles in his time and trained three Irish Champion Stakes rulers already. That started with Muhtarram in 1993 and both The Fugue (2013) and Golden Horn (2015) were added to the list. Are we set for number four?
His main danger, according to the betting, is expected to come in the shape of Poet’s Word who was second last year, beaten by ½ a length, and Saxon Warrior who has won half of his first eight, but hasn’t stuck his head in front in any of his last four. Poet’s Word is available in places at 5/1 with Saxon Warrior sure to attract attention at a chunky 11/2.