Awtaad ‘trained for this race’

The view from connections ahead of the £1.16million Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on the British Champions Day card.

Awtaad comes home clear from Galileo Gold in the Irish 1000 Guineas.

Richard Fahey believes Minding may prove the main bar to success for Ribchester in the Qipco Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

The Iffraaj colt graduated to Group One success in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville in August, with the reopposing 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold just over three lengths back in eighth.

Ribchester, winner of the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, had previously finished narrowly behind Galileo Gold when the pair filled second and third in the Sussex Stakes while Fahey's runner was also third behind his old rival in the Guineas.

While Ribchester has successfully reversed that form, Fahey has not written off the claims of Galileo Gold, although he thinks 1000 Guineas and Oaks winner Minding will provide also stiff opposition.

"It's in the back of your mind that he could be over the top or whatever, he's been on the go a while but he hasn't had an awful lot of racing, he had a break after the Guineas," said Fahey.

"I feel he was the best horse in France, maybe Galileo Gold ran a little flat, but I feel we've improved again. I'm a big fan of Minding though, so we'll see.

"I'm happy with my lad, the beauty of him is he goes on any ground.

"I'll have to speak to John (Ferguson) about the Breeders' Cup but we'll see how he gets on at Ascot, I think he's got an automatic entry. I'm led to believe he stays in training."

Aidan O'Brien's Minding was last seen when posting a fine third in the Irish Champion Stakes behind Almanzor and Found and she will be dropping back to a mile for the first time since a surprise reverse in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

"Minding had the choice of three races (QEII, Champion Stakes and Fillies & Mares), it all came down to how they all worked and then the lads (Coolmore partners) decided which races they ran in," said O'Brien.

"She's been an unbelievable filly this year."

Galileo Gold has danced just about every dance this season but remains on the go for Hugo Palmer, who is convinced there is one more big day in his stable star.

"Galileo Gold is in great form and has answered every call during his preparation," said Palmer.

"I couldn't be happier with how he's gone and I'm really looking forward to Saturday.

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"We've met Ribchester three times, we're leading two-one, and I'd like to think on the two occasions that Galileo Gold has gone there on the top of his game he's come out on top.

"He didn't run his race in France and I just hope he can run his race on Saturday.

"It would mean everything for his season to win. He would certainly be the champion miler and conceivably the horse of the year as well.

"It would be a very special achievement for him."

Ed Walker's Stormy Antarctic started the season by winning the Craven but not much has gone to plan since.

"I think we were probably guilty of worrying about one horse too much in France," said Walker.

"We were drawn next to Galileo Gold and we felt he was the one to beat. He over-raced and the pace was just too strong up front. We were caught up in that and paid the price at the end.

"He hasn't had a huge amount of luck since he won the Craven so well.

"We were hoping to get a prep race into him before the QEII, but he got the dreaded cough that has been going round Newmarket all summer.

"He's in cracking form now and goes into it fresh, so we're really up for it.

Kevin Prendergast's Awtaad beat Galileo Gold in the Irish Guineas but was behind him at both Ascot and Goodwood before bouncing back at Leopardstown.

"He's a very special horse to me and the boss, he's been our flagship horse all season," said his jockey Chris Hayes.

"In our eyes he's never done anything wrong. He was a little bit below par at Goodwood, but he came back to win at Leopardstown in great fashion.

"He"s been trained with this race in mind and nothing has gone wrong.

"He was very much on a retrieval mission at Leopardstown and it was nice to prove any doubters wrong that he still had the engine.

"It's the race of the season at this distance. He's going to have to be at the top of his form but he owes us nothing."

Mitchum Swagger is likely to be an outsider for David Lanigan but he has course form after finishing an unlucky third in the Royal Hunt Cup.

"At start of the year this was always the plan and after his latest run at Haydock, I don't see why we should not go for it," said Lanigan.

"He's run only one bad race in his whole life and his owners have had fun with him since day one. They are all keen to go for the QEII and he owes us nothing. The prize money is excellent and the day should be supported. We are all looking forward to it."

Jet Setting's team are praying for rain, but she is unlikely to get ground as soft as it was when she beat Minding in the Irish Guineas.

Nevertheless, she was still supplemented earlier in the week.

Her trainer Adrian Keatley said: "It (supplementing her) has worked a couple of times, so hopefully we'll get reward.

"She was exceptionally good at Tipperary and hopefully the rain comes and we can get back in the winner's enclosure. She's got a great skin on her and is leaping around the place at home."

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