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Mixed fortunes for stars of Champions Series

22 May 2016

Fascinating Rock beats Found at Curragh after Galileo Gold and Minding suffer defeats

Fascinating Rock

Fascinating Rock, who beat Found in the QIPCO British Champion Stakes on British Champions Day, repeats the dose at the Curragh. Picture courtesy of Racingfotos.com

There were bundles of QIPCO British Champions Series pointers over the weekend. Here’s what unfolded, and where we might see the winners and losers in the next month or so.

Temple Stakes (Haydock Park on Saturday)

With the ground on the soft side, QIPCO British Champions Series winners Goldream and Sole Power were among five non-runners in the Group 2 feature. It still produced an exciting race, with Profitable, previously successful in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket, edging out Mecca’s Angel, last year’s Nunthorpe winner, by a neck. The winner appeared to lean on the mare and carried her across the track, but the stewards allowed the result to stand. The rematch in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 14 – the first race in the sprint category of the QIPCO British Champions Series – should be a cracker, although fast ground would probably mean Mecca’s Angel missing out. “We were very concerned when it rained like it did,” Clive Cox, the winning trainer, said. “I think on better ground he will power away.”

Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas (Curragh on Saturday)

The exciting Awtaad confirmed himself a fast-improving colt with a commanding win by two and a half lengths from Galileo Gold, who last month won the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, the first race in the 2016 QIPCO British Champions Series. Connections have yet to make a final decision as to whether to head for the Investec Derby on Saturday week, or the St James’s Palace at Royal Ascot ten days later, but Angus Gold, racing manager for owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, suggested today that the latter was a far more likely option. Galileo Gold did not enjoy the clearest of runs and possibly found the ground too soft. He definitely heads for the St James’s Palace. Air Force Blue, the champion two-year-old, again disappointed. That could mean The Gurkha, his stablemate, skipping the Derby and heading for the St James’s Palace.

Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas (Curragh on Sunday)

Minding was champion two-year-old filly last year and emphatic winner of the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, so it was not surprising she was sent off 4-11 favourite. However, like Galileo Gold 24 hours earlier, she found one too good in her attempt to complete a Guineas double. Try as hard as she could, Minding, who banged her head leaving the stalls, could not peg back the Adrian Keatley-trained  Jet Setting, who fended her off by a head. The pair pulled ten lengths clear. The winner, returned at 9-1, had finished only ninth at Newmarket, beaten about nine lengths. She is engaged in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, but Keatley said: “I don’t know what’s next. I didn’t look beyond this.” Minding will still run in the Investec Oaks on Friday week, provided Aidan O’Brien is happy with her condition. “She hit her head on the stalls before they opened and burst her sinus,” he said. “Ryan [Moore] said she anticipated it [the start] before the gates opened. Obviously we’re disappointed she got beat, and obviously it [hitting her head] wasn’t an advantage, but she ran well. The poor thing will have a headache, any way. She’ll get an easy week now and if she’s well she could go to Epsom.”

Tattersalls Gold Cup (Curragh on Sunday)

The Grey Gatsby and Time Test were significant non-runners on account of the soft ground. The pair have the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 15 on their agendas, with the latter also among 15 entries for the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown Park on Thursday. Their defections left the way clear for Fascinating Rock and Found to dominate. The pair had clashed twice before since October, with the score 1-1 between them, but this time Fascinating Rock won with authority by almost four lengths from the filly. Softish ground is considered essential for the five-year-old, who seems unlikely to run at Royal Ascot and has the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as his principal target. “I’ll speak to the owner but he might have the summer off now,” Dermot Weld, his trainer, said. Foundwill not be going on her holidays a d is likely to take in a QIPCO British Champions Series race next time. O’Brien said: “It’s always a bit disappointing when you are beat but she ran very well. She has the choice of two races – either at Epsom [Coronation Cup] or Ascot [Prince of Wales’s Stakes].”