Irish hope Found can find a way at Ascot

O’Brien will be anxious to tackle warm favourite Jack Hobbs in Champion Stakes

Wayne Lordan riding Gordon Lord Byron to victory in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot last year. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Wayne Lordan riding Gordon Lord Byron to victory in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot last year. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

The Qipco Champion Stakes has proved a notably difficult target for Irish-trained horses over the years but both Found and Fascinating Rock will attempt to fix that in style in today’s British Champions Day highlight at Ascot.

It is the fifth renewal of the Champions Day concept which has proved notably successful for Irish raiders with nine victories at the lucrative fixture to date, including a clean-sweep in the Long Distance Cup.

The last three renewals of the Sprint have also fallen to the visitors, and two former winners, Maarek (2012) and Gordon Lord Byron (2014,) are back for another crack at that, while Tapestry and Bocca Baciata will attempt to follow in Sapphire’s 2012 hoof-prints in the Filly & Mare.

Aidan O’Brien saddled Excelebration to land the 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, the peak of a notable Irish four-timer that year which culminated with Frankel’s landmark career finale in the Champion Stakes.

O’Brien, who celebrated his 46th birthday by walking Ascot’s straight mile and postponing a decision on Gleneagles’ QEII participation until the eve of the race, will be anxious to tackle the warm favourite Jack Hobbs in the Champion Stakes, a rare blank on O’Brien’s Group 1 CV although he’s hardly singular in finding the mile and a quarter feature elusive.

Old home

Found was never a danger when ninth to Golden Horn in the Arc just 13 days ago, and now faces that colt’s stable companion Jack Hobbs as well as an international field that also includes Dermot Weld’s Fascinating Rock.

A wide draw for Jack Hobbs has knocked some confidence among the Godolphin team but the two Irish hopes are next to each other in seven and eight which gives options to both Ryan Moore and Pat Smullen.

The latter’s Group 1 ambitions also include his old ally Covert Love in the Filly & Mare but much of the build-up will centre on whether or not Gleneagles and Moore will get the chance to tackle Solow in the QEII. “If it doesn’t rain and Ryan is happy we might take the chance,” said O’Brien.

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