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The smallest field to tackle the Irish Champion Stakes in its current format will go to post at Leopardstown on Saturday after just four runners were declared.
It’s still set to be a high-quality renewal with three Group 1 winners and you’ll find our verdict on all the runners below.
Trainer: Joseph Patrick O’Brien Jockey: Declan McDonogh Age: 5 Weight: 9st 9lbs
Smart and consistent performer but he’s come up a little short at listed level on both starts this year and will surely prove vulnerable against this level of opposition.
Trainer: D. K. Weld Jockey: C. T. Keane Age: 5 Weight: 9st 6lbs
Big improver at 4, scoring at Group 1 level on her final 3 starts. Looked every bit as good as ever when hacking up in Group 3 Ballyroan on 1½m course reappearance last month.
Trainer: J. S. Bolger Jockey: K. J. Manning Age: 3 Weight: 9st 3lbs
One of this season’s best milers, winning the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace. Runner-up in Sussex and Jacques Le Marois the last twice and he’s certainly bred to effective at 1¼m.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien Jockey: Ryan Moore Age: 3 Weight: 9st 3lbs
Has made into a top-class colt, impressively completing four-timer in Eclipse at Sandown. Earlier won Poule d’Essai des Poulains and Prix du Jockey Club in France. Has good turn of foot. One to beat.
Timeform’s Irish Champion Stakes Verdict: ST MARK’S BASILICA coped very well with a small-field scenario when an impressive winner of the Eclipse and can land a fifth Group 1 success in a row. The Arc is presumably the main target for Tarnawa so it could be that the chief threat comes from leading miler Poetic Flare, whose pedigree provides plenty of hope that he’ll be just as good over this trip.
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