x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Breeders' Cup next for The Fugue after proof she is no softy

Filly's win in Ireland proves owner's ground fears were wrong and is 'so versatile', writes Geoffrey Riddle.

William Buick made sure The Fugue set off from the bend at Leopardstown racecourse to win the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes. Getty Images
William Buick made sure The Fugue set off from the bend at Leopardstown racecourse to win the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes. Getty Images

The Fugue earned a spot at November's Breeders Cup after securing a second Group 1 victory in the space of two weeks when taking the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.

The filly won the Yorkshire Oaks over 12 furlongs on good to firm going 17 days ago but proved her versatility by forging clear by a length and a quarter in the ten-furlong contest.

The Fugue's task was made significantly easier with the scratching of Declaration Of War due to unsuitably soft ground.

Jockey Joseph O'Brien then switched from the Queen Anne Stakes and Juddmonte International winner to Kingsbarns, who was pulled up on his first start since winning the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy in October.

Princess Highway, who won the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot last year from The Fugue, was also taken out of the race due to being in season.

Jim Bolger's Trading Leather made the running under Kevin Manning, with James Doyle tracking him five lengths behind on Al Kazeem alongside Parish Hall.

The Fugue was on Al Kazeem's flank and William Buick unleashed a strong run off the bend to skip clear a furlong out.

The Irish Champion Stakes is an entry event for the Breeders' Cup, alongside the Yorkshire Oaks, and The Fugue looks set to try to restore her reputation on November 2 at Santa Anita, where she was third in the Filly & Mare Turf last year.

"I nearly didn't get on the plane," owner Lady Lloyd-Webber said. "I think the ground went away from her and that is how good she is, it was a worry.

"She hasn't enjoyed ground on the softer side of good but she is so versatile and she has this huge talent. I think we have to head to the West because we won't get rain like this there."

Earlier in the day Saeed bin Suroor obtained a bittersweet victory in the Group 3 September Stakes when Prince Bishop edged out his stablemate Royal Empire over a mile and a half at Kempton Park Racecourse.

Royal Empire looked to have made a winning move under Silvestre De Sousa two furlongs from the line, but Kieren Fallon made up Prince Bishop's mind in a driving finish and the pair won by a head.

Empire is among four runners for Godolphin entered in the Melbourne Cup alongside Ahzeemah, Colour Vision and Songcraft and having failed to secure the win he could be turned out at Ascot on October 6 before going into quarantine for his trip down under.

"Royal Empire has run a great race under a penalty and Prince Bishop showed a great attitude and responded well to Kieren's urgings," Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, said.

"Royal Empire is a possible for the Melbourne Cup but it depends on sorting out the quarantine. He might run in the Cumberland Lodge first and then we will look at Australia."

Ahzeemah and Colour Vision were both included in the six-day confirmation stage on Saturday for Friday's Doncaster Cup at Doncaster Racecourse, although Colour Vision is a more likely runner.

At Haydock Park Racecourse Johnny Murtagh's annus mirabilis continued as he guided Dubai Golden Shaheen flop Gordon Lord Byron to an easy win in the Group 1 Sprint Cup.

Murtagh has been in vintage form this season after deciding to combine training and riding from his base at the Curragh and it was his fifth win this year at the highest level.

Gordon Lord Byron appreciated the rain-affected going and crushed fellow Irish raider Slade Power, trained by Dubai World Cup Carnival regular Edward Lynam, by three lengths.

Hoof It, owned in syndicate by golfer Lee Westwood, was third, while the heavily fancied Lethal Force appeared to founder in the ground and could finish only ninth.


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