Curragh: Churchill boosts Classic hopes in National Stakes
Churchill ran out an impressive winner of the National Stakes
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Churchill boosts Classic credentials in National By Jack Haynes 4.30PM 11 SEP 2016
Report: Curragh, Sunday
Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes (Group 1) 7f, 2yo
CHURCHILL justified his position at the head of the 2,000 Guineas market with victory in the Group 1 National Stakes – leaving the impression a step up to a mile, and possibly further, should suit the son of Galileo.
Sky Bet cut Churchill to 7-2 favourite (from 7) for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas next year and also 10-1 market leader (from 16) for the Investec Derby following his convincing four-and-a-quarter length win over Mehmas, while Paddy Power made him 5-2 favourite (from 6) for the Newmarket Classic and 6-1 jolly (from 20) for the Epsom feature.
Winning trainer Aidan O'Brien said: "He's a very exciting horse. He settled and he quickened and I thought that he went like a real miler, but Ryan [Moore] was adamant that a mile and a quarter would be no problem to him next year either.
"He can be idle when he hits the front so it was lovely when Frankie's horse [Mehmas] eyeballed him and kind of leaned into him up the run in because that's exactly what he wanted. He would have learned a lot today."
How it panned out
Stablemate Lancaster Bomber quickened the tempo under Donnacha O'Brien with three furlongs to run, momentarily appearing to catch many of the runners out, though Ryan Moore went through the many gears aboard Churchill and the pair soon asserted their authority on the field.
Richard Hannon's star two-year-old Mehmas once again posted an admirable effort in top-class company in second, while William Haggas's Lockheed ran well to take third, staying on well again in the final furlong.
Churchill has several entries in the big autumn juvenile contests but O'Brien revealed plans are still fluid in the wake of his latest win.
"I'm not too sure if that will be him finished for the season now or not," he said. "We have been keeping him busy but he is progressing from each start and he is learning a lot. He has a lot of speed and we always felt that he was a Guineas horse."
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