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Fahey seeks elusive first Champions Day Success with help of Ribchester

19 Oct 2017

Trainer has high hopes Europe’s leading miler, Ribchester, will end his Champions Day losing sequence in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO).

Ribchester beat all bar Minding in last year’s renewal and has continued to thrive this year, winning the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes and, on his latest start, the Qatar Prix du Moulin.

His 14 rivals include Churchill, the QIPCO 2000 Guineas winner, and Al Wukair, who was third in the Newmarket Classic. Churchill, the champion two-year-old of last season, followed up his Guineas win in the Irish equivalent, while Al Wukair struck at the highest level last time when landing the Jacques Le Marois at Deauville.

Here Comes When, who beat Ribchester by a neck in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood in August, and the fast improving Beat The Bank, emphatic winner of the Group 2 Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket last month, give Andrew Balding a strong hand.

The famous colours of Cheveley Park will be carried by Zonderland, beaten a nose by Lightning Spear in the Grosvenor Sport Celebration Mile Stakes at Goodwood on his only start this year. Persuasive, runner-up in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket also lines up.

Chris Richardson, managing director of Cheveley Park, the owners of Persuasive and Zonderland:
“Persuasive’s been a little bit unlucky this year. She ran a blinder last time [when runner-up in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes] and was bucking and squealing the very next day.

“This will be her final race but we don’t want to risk her on quick ground as she desperately needs some cut in the ground. She showed how effective she is when getting her conditions when winning the Sandringham Stakes at Royal Ascot last year, so obviously going back to Ascot makes sense.

“Clive [Cox] has always believed in Zonderland and he’s come out of Goodwood in good form. He’s got the ability – it’s just a question of whether we get a bit of luck in running. The plus side is that we’ve got a fresh horse.

“He’s a beautiful horse and we will keep him going as a five-year-old next year. I’m sure he will do nothing but continue to mature.”

Rupert Pritchard Gordon, Racing Manager to Al Shaqab, owners of Al Wukair:
“Andre Fabre is very pleased with Al Wukair and this has always been the plan to keep him fresh in view to the QEII. He had a racecourse gallop at Maisons-Laffitte a couple of weeks ago to keep him ticking over and we were thrilled with him. He’s a horse that runs well fresh and the straight mile really suits him, so we were always going to wait.

“This is likely to be his last race before retiring, and a Marois-QEII double would be a fantastic way to go out. We know Ribchester’s going to be a tough nut to crack and we respect him enormously and Beat The Bank looks like a real improver, but our horse has a little bit of brilliance as well.”