Champion Stakes: Almanzor finds Found no problem

Almanzor is too quick for Found in the Champion Stakes

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Almanzor finds Found
no problem in Champion By Lewis Porteous 3:54PM 15 OCT 2016

Report: Ascot, Saturday

Qipco Champion Stakes (Group 1) 1m2f, 3yo+

ALMANZOR'S audition for the best horse in Europe was as smooth as silk as the three-year-old produced a turn of foot Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe heroine Found had no answer to in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

The pair had met in last month's Irish Champion Stakes, but in between Found had proved what a class act she is by winning Europe's richest race.

Her year-younger rival had three-quarters of a length to spare on the Leopardstown slopes, but he extended that superiority to two lengths with a dazzling display, one that makes him arguably Europe's most talented racehorse.

Trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, who has swept most before him in France this year, Almanzor broke tight against the rail in stall one, but was manoeuvred wider by experienced rider Christophe Soumillon, who partnered the great Cirrus Des Aigles to a memorable success in the 2011 Champion Stakes.

The pair then settled into a midfield slot towards the inside, tracked by Ryan Moore and Found.

Going well, the 11-8 favourite shifted wide again to make his run and came head to head with Aidan O'Brien's inmate, who went off a 5-2 pick.

Any ding-dong battle was short lived, however, as Almanzor came away to add to his triumphs in the Prix du Jockey Club and Irish Champion.

Impressed

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Soumillon said: "He's an amazing horse. Everything you do with him looks easy and he's shown how good he is. He was nearly unbeatable all year and he's getting smarter and smarter.

"I came a bit early on him and I knew Found was there and how strong she is, but he kept going. He's a strong horse and his great thing is his turn of foot."

Connections of the winner bypassed the Arc even though stablemate and leading contender La Cressonniere was ruled out days before with an injury.

"We've never tried a mile and a half with him, but I'm sure he'll stay," added Soumillon. "He's a strong horse and very versatile."

The Pau-based Rouget, the first European trainer to reach 6,000 victories and successful with Literato in the 2007 Champion Stakes, was equally as impressed as the rider.

"He's a champion," he said. "He did the same performance he did at Leopardstown and the time he had between the two races was perfect. He beat Found further because I think she had the Arc in her legs.

"She's a champion too, and we saw Minding today as well – it's Champions Day."

Reflecting on the decision to head for Britain's second-richest race over the Arc, Rouget added: "I preferred to keep him to this distance. Next year we'll see if we go to the Arc."

Breeders' Cup?

Almanzor is set for his winter break, but Found's busy schedule could continue at Santa Anita on November 5 when she may defend her Breeders' Cup Turf crown on what would be her tenth appearance of the year.

"It is an unbelievable run from her," said O'Brien, whose world-record 292 Group/Grade 1 wins still do not include a Champion Stakes.

"I am delighted. What can I say really? To run so well here after running in the Arc just two weeks ago, it was a great run.

"Ryan gave her a great ride. She was drawn wide and was in a difficult enough place, but she is an amazing mare."

Gosden thrilled

Jack Hobbs was third and his next outing could come in March's Dubai Sheema Classic.

Trainer John Gosden said: "It's lovely to have him back. He wants a mile and a half, as you all noticed, and he plays about a bit – he's still a bit of a kid.

"I'm thrilled – he's finished behind the best three-year-old colt in Europe and the Arc winner. He's run a great race."

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