Irish Champion Stakes Tips: Ghaiyyath to outclass rivals

Ghaiyyath has produced some sparkling performances this season.
Ghaiyyath has produced some sparkling performances this season.

Steve Chambers previews Saturday's Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, where multiple Group 1 winners Ghaiyyath and Magical clash in a vintage renewal..

A mouth-watering duel between two Flat racing heavyweights will light up the Irish Champion Stakes, as Godolphin's win machine Ghaiyyath will lock horns with an Aidan O'Brien-trained duo of Magical and Japan in what should produce a scintillating Group 1 showpiece that sees a field of six go to post. An astonishing 14 Group 1 wins have been won by the six contenders between them, with French star Sottsass adding yet more depth to a contest jam-packed with quality.

Charlie Appleby's Ghaiyyath has rocketed into the limelight this season notching up a plethora of top-class wins, and the five-year-old will be aiming to extend his unbeaten run to five races when he heads to the Emerald Isle this weekend. Having kicked off his British campaign with a facile two and a half length victory in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket, the son of Dubawi then comfortably outclassed Enable by over two lengths in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park.

Enhancing his already lofty reputation further with a dominant victory in the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York's Ebor Festival last month, Ghaiyyath has quickly become one of the most exciting, classy equine talents in training.

With a possible tilt at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe next month in France, where he could lock horns again with Sandown rival Enable, Ghaiyyath has been handed the Irish Champion Stakes as his next assignment, as he goes in search of a fourth Group 1 win on the bounce. Arguably the finest ten-furlong horse in training, Ghaiyyath will line up over that trip again on Saturday, and with Appleby confirming his well-being at the declaration stage it's no surprise to see the Godolphin raider installed as an odds-on favourite.

Ghaiyyath cruised to an emphatic three-length victory in the Juddmonte and he will be hoping to frank the form with Magical, who chased home Appleby's superstar on the Knavesmire. William Buick is sure to adopt the usual front-running tactics on board Ghaiyyath, who has made a habit of getting classy horses out of their comfort zone by maintaining a fierce gallop from the outset, and while Magical heads to Leopardstown as the reigning champion in the Irish Champion Stakes, it's hard to see her reversing their recent York form, and Ghaiyyath looks to have a fairly straightforward task if he can continue his blistering displays.

A hugely impressive two and a quarter length winner of the 2019 Irish Champion Stakes, Magical headed into the aforementioned Juddmonte in fine form, as she won both the Pretty Polly Stakes and the Tattersalls Gold Cup, but she was no match for Ghaiyyath, who dominated from the get-go. 

The five-year-old mare may have 11 wins to her name - with most of those coming in Group events - but she has often beaten significantly inferior rivals in those victories, and has then come unstuck when taking on top-class performers. She was beaten by Enable on two occasions last season, while she was defeated by Crystal Ocean at Royal Ascot, so while you can't crab her ability in Group 1 races, she can often struggle at the very highest level, and in Ghaiyyath she looks to have another thorn in her side that she can't dislodge.

Eye-catchingly, Ballydoyle's number one jockey Ryan Moore has opted to ride Japan rather than partner Magical, and that has forced the bookmakers to trim Japan's odds and lengthen Magical's odds. So, at the time of writing, Japan is slightly shorter in the betting, but he has to produce his A-game if he is to down the Godolphin hotpot.

Japan is often well-supported in the market with good vibes reverberating around the track about the O'Brien raider on a regular occasion, but he has often come unstuck in top-notch races, and while he has some big-race wins on his CV (2019 Juddmonte International, 2019 Grand Prix de Paris), he has often flattered to deceive on occasions. Well beaten by Ghaiyyath when the pair clashed in the Coral-Eclipse earlier in the season, Japan also disappointed when last of three in the King George at Ascot, where he was outclassed by Enable. So, while there's always that nagging doubt that he may get his act together to claim another Group 1 success, it's hard to back him with any confidence, and Ghaiyyath can frank the recent Sandown form and get the better of Japan this weekend.

Jean-Claude Rouget's Sottsass will add a significant element of spice to the Irish Champion Stakes, as he ventures to Irish shores for the first time. A narrow winner of the Prix Ganay in June, when sent off an odds-on favourite, the four-year-old son of Siyouni then failed to follow that up in Group 3 company next time out, as he could only finish second when sent off a clear odds-on favourite again.

He finished a fine third in the Arc 12 months ago, and he is likely to be targeted at that once again next month, but you could argue that his best performances have come over 1m 4f, so Saturday's 1m 2f test against a relentless galloper in Ghaiyyath could see him come unstuck, and while he adds a fascinating depth to the race, he will struggle to feature prominently at the finish.

The field of six is completed with two huge outsiders, with Armory providing more ammunition for Aidan O'Brien, but he looks to be up against it and looks the least likely winner of the Ballydoyle triumvirate. A Group 3 winner last time out shows he does possess some ability, but he was well beaten by Magical in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, and he could well be used to assist his stablemates and possibly take on Ghaiyyath for the lead through the early stages and look to upset the hot favourite on the front end.

Jessica Harrington's Leo De Fury completes the line-up, and he was not only beaten by Armory in that aforementioned Group 3, but he has also been well beaten by Magical as well this campaign, so he will be hoping that some of the star names can flop, and he can pick up the pieces in a race that can be dominated by the superstar Ghaiyyath, who can demolish his rivals from the outset, and victory in Ireland can continue his spectacular season on the level.

Selection

Irish Champion Stakes, Saturday 12th September - back Ghaiyyath at 8/13

Tip

Irish Champion Stakes
Ghaiyyath silk

Ghaiyyath

placed
St Leger Odds 2020

Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Bets

New customers using Promo Code P30 only, min £10/€10 stake, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 2 x £15/€15 (30 days expiry), free bet/payment method/player/country restrictions apply. T&C's apply, 18+ begambleaware.org
Bet £10 & Get £30 Free Bets + £10 Casino Bonus
Minimum deposit of £10 using deposit code 30F - A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £10 placed on any sports market - Minimum odds of 1/2 (1.5) - Free bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement and expire after 7 days - Free bet stakes not included in returns - Casino Bonus must be claimed within 7 days • To withdraw bonus/related wins, wager bonus amount x40 within 14 days • Wagering req. vary by game • Withdrawal restrictions and Full T&C’s apply. 18+ begambleaware.org
£20 Risk Free First Bet Money Back In Cash
New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is €/£20. T&Cs apply. 18+ begambleaware.org
Welcome Offer
Open Account Offer. Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. The bonus code ‘100BET365’ can be used during registration, but does not change the offer amount in any way. 18+ begambleaware.org.
Up to £30 in Free Bets
New Customers deposit and bet up to £30 at odds of 2.0 or greater within 7 days of registration, Cashed out bets excluded. Matched bonus paid in free bets; 7 day expiry. Offer valid from 09:00BST on 26/05/2020. Card payments only. Geo Restrictions and T&Cs. 18+ | begambleaware.org | Please gamble responsibly
Bet £10 Get £30 + 30 Free Spins
You must stake £10 or more at single/cumulative odds of Evens (2.0) or greater on your first bet. Free bet balance of £30 credited within 48 hours of your first bet being settled. Free Bets expire after 7 days. E-Wallet restrictions apply. Minimum 5 game rounds. Game restrictions apply. Maximum 30 Free Spins on selected games. Free Spins expire after 7 days. T&C's apply, 18+ begambleaware.org
Bet £5 Get £20 In Free Bets
Min £5 bet on the SBK. Rewards valid for 7 days. Free bets must be placed at min odds of 1.5. Exchange free bet limited to certain markets. Payment restrictions apply. T&Cs apply. 18+ begambleaware.org
£25 Bet Bundle
18+. UK Customers (Excluding NI) only. Cash stakes only. Min £10 stake required for initial £5 free bet. Min odds ½. Max £25 in free bets. Subsequent free bets equal 50% average of each 3 qualifying bets. 13 bets required to receive full £25 free bet. Qualifying bet must be placed within 30 days of opening account. Cashed out bets will not qualify towards your average stake. One free bet offer per customer, household or IP address only. Free bet expires after 7 days. Payment method restrictions apply. T&Cs apply.
Money back As A Bonus Up To £40 If Your First Racing Bet Loses + £10 Casino
New customers only. 18+, BeGambleAware.org. Min deposit £10. Money back as bonus. Wagering requirements: Racing 3x at min. odds of 1.40 (2/5), Casino 35x. Only one bonus can be used at a time, Racing bonus must be wagered before using the Casino, unless the bonus has been forfeited. Bonus will expire after 7 days of opt-in.