Is Found the key to the Irish Champion Stakes?

Is Found the key to the Irish Champion Stakes? By Mark Scully 6:31PM 9 SEP 2016

SATURDAY'S Qipco Irish Champion Stakes has all the ingredients to be a race of the ages. But with so much high-class form colliding at Leopardstown, unravelling the puzzle could be a tricky task. We take a look at the collateral formlines and ask if Found is the key?

Found's significance?

The ultra-consistent Found is one of nine Group 1 winners in this incredible field and she brings form of the highest calibre to the table. Crucially, much of it collates with that of her rivals and, based on these formlines, the race starts to take shape – and suggests a surprise winner.

That is because, based on her neck defeat at the hands of My Dream Boat in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, Hawkbill is five and a half lengths her superior, putting him straight to the head of affairs.

How so? Well, while Hawkbill will be meeting Found for the first time on Saturday, the thumping of in excess of five lengths he dished out to an admittedly below-par My Dream Boat in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown leaves his rivals with a bit to find.

Found (Seamie Heffernan) wins

Found's form ties with many of her rivals

PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)

Derby form

Chief among those who could have a job on their hands is Harzand, who formlines suggest has a length and a quarter to make up on Hawkbill, if indeed Found's form is to be taken at face value.

Like Hawkbill, he has never raced against Found but he did beat John Gosden's Wings Of Desire by seven and three-quarter lengths in the Derby at Epsom.

This is significant because when Wings Of Desire took on Highland Reel in the King George – he was beaten only a length and a quarter, meaning Harzand is six and a half lengths ahead of Highland Reel.

Found met Highland Reel in this very race 12 months ago and got the better of him by two and three-quarter lengths, so all of that suggests she is four and a quarter lengths inferior to Harzand.

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Incidentally, the basic maths is franked by another formline. Success Days has been beaten by Found twice, losing by a length and a quarter in the Mooresbridge and finishing a length and a half behind her in this year's Tattersalls Gold Cup. He also beat Moonlight Magic by three and a quarter lengths last time out in the Royal Whip.

That puts Moonlight Magic four and three-quarter lengths behind Found and eight and a half lengths behind Harzand, which is the exact distance he was beaten by Dermot Weld's colt in the Irish Derby.

What about Minding?

She has been one of the undisputed stars of 2016 but Found brings bad news for Minding as on a line through Bocca Baciata the Oaks heroine has a length and a quarter to find on Found – and almost seven to turn around with our winner, Hawkbill.

Minding

On a line through Bocca Baciata Minding has a bit to find

PICTURE: Caroline Norris (racingpost.com/photos)

The Jessica Harrington-trained four-year-old came home four and a half lengths behind Minding when the pair met in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh earlier in the season. However, Found was too good for Bocca Baciata – to the tune of five and three-quarter lengths – in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the same venue on her previous start.

Others to note

The Found form lines should boost the mood in the New Bay camp, with last year's Prix Du Jockey Club winner two and three-quarter lengths clear of her based on the form of last year's brilliant Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

The Grey Gatsby would have slim hopes of repeating his famous 2014 upset in this race, though, having been beaten by Found not only here last year but by four and a quarter lengths in the Prince Of Wales's.

On a line through Postponed, Found's stablemate Sir Isaac Newton could be given half a chance, but he looks to have a mountain to climb based on his pair of defeats at the hands of Highland Reel.

Almanzor and Jean-Bernard Eyquem

Almanzor: is the unknown quantity in the race

PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)

The unknown quantity

Of course, not every theory is perfect and there is an Almanzor-shaped hole in this one.

The French Derby hero has very little in the way of relevant form with Found but, at a stretch, he could be said to be level with Found.

Here's how: Almanzor got the better of Zarak by a length and a half in the French Derby, who in turn finished six and a half lengths behind The Gurkha in the French 2,000 Guineas over a mile.

The Gurkha met Hawkbill at Sandown, where he was beaten only half a length, putting Almanzor five and a half lengths behind Godolphin's colt, the same as Found.

So it's as simple as that. Or is it?

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