French Derby hero Almanzor just champion

Christophe Soumillon delivered Almanzor (light blue silks) down the outside

PICTURE: Getty Images French Derby hero Almanzor just champion By Lewis Porteous 6:54PM 10 SEP 2016

Report: Leopardstown, Saturday

QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1) 3yo+, 1m2f

ALMANZOR proved himself a champion as the French Derby winner got the better of Found in a stirring finish to a vintage renewal, featuring eight individual Group 1 winners who boasted 15 successes at the highest level.

In a field that included dual Derby hero Harzand and six-time Group 1 heroine Minding, Almanzour travelled like the good horse he clearly is before quickening down the outer under big-race rider Christophe Soumillon to outpoint Frankie Dettori and Found.

It was perhaps not the two horses many had anticipated would be battling out the finish but both Almanzor and Found were already proven at the top level and there was certainly no fluke about the impressive winner.

While he had a clear passage, Almanzor, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, had to make his challenge from off the pace and out wide – but his acceleration was superior to his rivals as he surged past Breeders' Cup winner Found close home.

Harzand was sent off favourite to add another success to his dream season but the warning signs were flashing from an early stage, with Pat Smullen rowing away to maintain an early position as he dropped back in trip.

Minding travelled more kindly and although locked away on the rail where space was at a premium, she appeared to be in the clear soon enough if good enough, but ultimately came up short as she took on the boys for the first time. Admittedly she lost little in defeat back in third.

More to follow . . .

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