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23 Group One winners entered for £1.3m QIPCO Champion Stakes

3 Aug 2016

Dual Derby winner Harzand features in stellar line-up for Europe's richest 1m 2f race

Harzand Champion Stakes

Harzand could complete a Champions Series double after landing the Investec Derby back in June. Picture: Racingfotos.com

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The £1.3m QIPCO Champion Stakes is the richest mile and a quarter race in Europe and the 55 entries, up nine on last year (or 20%), include 23 Group 1 or Grade 1 winners.

The first five home last year, Fascinating Rock, Found, Jack Hobbs, Racing History and Air Pilot, may meet again, while the Classic generation could be represented by  Harzand, US Army Ranger, Idaho and Wings Of Desire – the first four home in the Investec Derby – plus the outstanding Minding, the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and Investec Oaks winner, who landed the sixth Group 1 of her career when scooping the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood on Saturday.

Jean-Claude Rouget has already indicated that the QIPCO Champion Stakes is the principal autumn target of Almanzor, the Prix du Jockey Club winner, who is among 11 contenders from France. Another intriguing entry is Yorker, a multiple winner at the highest level in South Africa who is now in training with William Haggas in Newmarket.

 “If we can get him back to his best he’s worth a shot at any decent race in Europe,” Haggas said. “He’s had a few issues but at the moment he’s in really good nick.

“We are hoping very much to get him ready for the Strensall Stakes York and hopefully it will be onwards and upwards from there.”

 The first three home in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown last month – Hawkbill, The Gurkha and Time Test – are engaged, while My Dream Boat, fifth in that feature, having previously landed the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, is also entered.

Hawkbill was winning his sixth race in succession at Sandown and has since been given time to recharge his batteries.

Charlie Appleby, his trainer, said: “He had a little bit of a break after Sandown and is on target to run next in the Juddmonte International [at York on August 17]. I’m sure it will be a good race and have a bearing on who we will see in the QIPCO Champion Stakes on Champions Day.

“Hawkbill had a battle on his hands up the Sandown straight but he’s come out of it well and is getting mentally stronger with each run. It was pleasing to see The Gurkha subsequently go and do the job [in the Qatar Sussex Stakes] at Goodwood. We didn’t totally discard the King George but, with the future in mind and going beyond the Juddmonte, we wanted to give him a little bit more time. He’s our flagbearer this year.”

Gabrial finished a staying-on third in the QIPCO-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day last year and could tackle the extra quarter mile of the Champion Stakes this time. On his latest start the seven-year-old, trained by Richard Fahey, kept on to be fifth in the Qatar Sussex Stakes, being beaten under four lengths.

 “We are quite keen to go down the Champion Stakes road,” Fahey said. “He’s not been stopping at the end of his races and, though he’s an older horse, he is starting to relax more now. He’s been a star and any soft ground would suit him well.”

Full list of entries:

  1. Air Pilot (GB)
  2. Alice Springs (IRE)
  3. Almanzor (FR)
  4. Almodovar (IRE)
  5. Awtaad (IRE)
  6. Ballydoyle (IRE)
  7. Dariyan (FR)
  8. Deauville (IRE)
  9. Elliptique (IRE)
  10. Endless Drama (IRE)
  11. Exosphere (GB)
  12. Fascinating Rock (IRE)
  13. Found (IRE)
  14. Gabrial (IRE)
  15. Garlingari (FR)
  16. Gershwin (GB)
  17. Harzand (IRE)
  18. Hawkbill (USA)
  19. Heshem (IRE)
  20. Highland Reel (IRE)
  21. Hit It A Bomb (USA)
  22. Idaho (IRE)
  23. Intilaaq (USA)
  24. Jack Hobbs (GB)
  25. Johannes Vermeer (IRE)
  26. Lightning Spear (GB)
  27. Long Island Sound (USA)
  28. Maverick Wave (USA)
  29. Midterm (GB)
  30. Minding (IRE)
  31. Moonlight Magic (GB)
  32. Mutakayyef (GB)
  33. My Dream Boat (IRE)
  34. New Bay (GB)
  35. One Foot In Heaven (IRE)
  36. Qatari Gold (USA)
  37. Racing History (IRE)
  38. Scottish (IRE)
  39. Seventh Heaven (IRE)
  40. Sir Isaac Newton (GB)
  41. Sky Hunter (GB)
  42. Somehow (IRE)
  43. Success Days (IRE)
  44. Taareef (USA)
  45. The Grey Gatsby (IRE)
  46. The Gurkha (IRE)
  47. The Steward (USA)
  48. Time Test (GB)
  49. Ultra (IRE)
  50. Ulysses (IRE)
  51. Us Army Ranger (IRE)
  52. Western Hymn (GB)
  53. Wings of Desire (GB)
  54. Yorker (SAF)
  55. Zarak (FR)