2019 Irish Champion Stakes guide and selection

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

A horse-by-horse guide to Ireland’s biggest flat race, as well as our selection. We’re expecting fast ground with a warm, sunny day forecast in Dublin.

Magical – 15/8f
Chance: ★★★★
Value: ★★

For all that her form is rock solid and tied in with the world’s best horse Enable, she’s shown her very best over a mile-and-a-half trips on softer going, and she’s vulnerable here. To be perfectly honest, I would still be shy of backing her if she were twice her current odds.

Elarqam – 7/2
Chance:
★★★★
Value: ★★★

The beautifully bred son of Frankel has finally come good after going wayward following a good show in last season’s 2,000 Guineas. His last run was his best, encountering some traffic to finish a staying-on third behind Japan and Crystal Ocean in the Juddmonte International at York. I suspect he will end up wanting 12f and, for all he’s never won a Group One, his career is on an upward trajectory so he’s feared.

Headman – 4/1
Chance: ★★★
Value: ★★

Rarely seen in Britain and prolific in Group company in France, he’s a three-year-old on the up but looks plenty short in the betting given his modest achievements to date. I wouldn’t be surprised if he won, but it requires a big step up.

Madhmoon – 11/2
Chance: ★★★★
Value: ★★★

Loves Leopardstown, fast ground and ten furlongs, but question marks over his overall form remain. At 7/1 those doubts were somewhat considered and he’s got a good chance, but I think the price has gone now.

Anthony Van Dyck – 12/1
Chance:
★★★★
Value: ★★★★

Beat Madhmoon over 12f in the Derby and again in the Irish Derby, so the disparity in their prices is a little puzzling. No doubt his tame effort on soft ground in the King George and failure to reel in Sovereign – although he did a lot better than Madhmoon – in the Irish Derby has significantly dented his reputation, but back on a sound surface he has a much better chance.

Dierdre – 12/1
Chance: ★★★
Value: ★★★★

A Japanese raider who won a memorable Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, she’s no doubt a Group One filly – which, gender aside, can’t be said for all in this race – but this is a very tough ask and requires a step up. She’s a five-year-old, and that makes that tougher.

Magic Wand – 25/1
Chance:
★★
Value: ★★★★

Fascinating that, in the absence of Donnacha O’Brien, jockey bookings point towards Seamie Heffernan’s mount being the powerful O’Brien yard’s second string. Either that or ‘tick tock Seamie the clock’ is the man entrusted with setting the pace here. With Hunting Horn usually on pacemaking duties the former scenario looks more likely, and we know she’s a Group One filly capable of high-class form on her day. She might be a little overpriced.

Hunting Horn – 100/1
Chance:

Value: ★★

Probably pacemaker and highly unlikely to feature in the finish.

Selection

By my own logic, ANTHONY VAN DYCK has to be the bet at 12/1. He looks to have an equal chance as Madhmoon but is significantly bigger in the market and there’s nothing about the conditions of the race to be fearful of. The nagging worry is his trainer’s tendency to lay one out for a specific race, and whether this is it given his entries in the Arc and British Champion Stakes – with the Breeders’ Cup on the cards too.

1pt win Anthony Van Dyck @12/1, 16:15 Leopardstown, Saturday

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