Almanzor wins Irish Champion
French Derby winner Almanzor (7/1) got the better of a gallant found in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
Almanzor (light blue) won the Irish Champion Stakes
A stellar field lined up for the 10 furlong Group One, including the last two winners of the French Derby (Prix du Jockey Club) and it was the the current holder who proved strongest.
Trainer Jean Claude-Rouget has enjoyed a stellar year and Christope Soumillon brought the Wootton Bassett colt with a determined run down the outside to edge out Found who also finished second in the race 12 months ago.
It momentarily looked as though the consistent filly, ridden here by Frankie Dettori who was substituting for Seamie Heffernan, was going to see the colt off and gain a deserved win but the colt was firmly on top in the final yards, scoring by three parts of a length.
The pair finished two and a quarter lengths clear of Minding in third who hadn't enjoyed the easiest of passages throughout the race under Ryan Moore but didn't show her trademark turn of foot when in the clear.
Last year's French Derby winner, New Bay, finished fourth but this year's dual English and Irish Derby winner Harzand – sent off the 2/1 favourite – failed to get competitive on this drop in trip.
Racing PR Manager Michael Shinners said: "The Qipco Irish Champion Stakes was being billed as the best Flat race ever staged in Ireland and it certainly lived up to the billing.
"The horses that the market expected to come to the fore may not have been involved at the finish but Found is a decent yardstick for the level and nearly provided another remarkable chapter in Frankie Dettori's history.
"Almanzor is a Classic winner in his own right though and was well on top at the line, certainly offering hope that he'll see out the extra quarter mile in the Arc and we've cut him to 5/1 from 16s to cap Jean Claude-Rouget's amazing season."
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