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Churchill being primed for Ribchester battle

4 Oct 2017

A bumper 29 horses remain engaged in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) with 11 having won at least one Group 1 contest.

Ribchester, officially rated Europe’s best miler sets a very high standard for this year’s renewal, having won three Group 1 races this season. His opponents could include the first three home in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas – Churchill, Barney Roy and Al Wukair. Taareef and Zelzal, like Al Wukair, could represent France.

Here Comes When, who defeated Ribchester in the Qatar Sussex Stakes, and the rapidly progressing Beat The Bank are on course to represent Andrew Balding, who is hoping to cap a record-breaking year with a flourish on QIPCO British Champions Day.

The Kingsclere trainer also has Montaly (QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup), Donjuan Triumphant (QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes) and Horseplay (QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes) pencilled in to run, together with Naval Warfare and Isomer in the £250,000 Balmoral Handicap (sponsored by QIPCO).

Beat The Bank, as short as 4-1 with some bookmakers for the QIPCO-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, has emerged as one of this season’s most exciting milers and enhanced his reputation with a runaway win in the Group 2 Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket last week. Here Comes When, a general 25-1 chance, has deliberately been rested since edging out Ribchester in the Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood in early August.

“Beat The Bank is an intended runner,” Balding said. “He’s very exciting and I’d say his performance at Newmarket was probably his best yet, although I also thought he was also very impressive at Goodwood the time before. You can only beat the horses you are up against.

Oisin [Murphy, his jockey] is adamant he will be better on better ground but he seems versatile in that regard. His one blip was at Royal Ascot but he had a dirty scope afterwards and obviously wasn’t himself. He just ran very flat and hopefully we can put a line through that.

“Here Comes When is in good form and goes straight to the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. We were thinking of running him in Italy [after his Goodwood win] but decided we were best keeping him fresh for Champions Day.”

FULL LIST OF RUNNERS

Breton Rock (IRE), Hathal (USA), Here Comes When (IRE), Lightning Spear (GB), Massaat (IRE), Morando (FR), Ribchester (IRE), Taareef (USA), Toscanini (IRE), Zelzal (FR), Zonderland (GB), Al Wukair (IRE), Barney Roy (GB), Beat The Bank (GB), Cape Byron (GB), Churchill (IRE), Cliffs of Moher (IRE), Lahore (USA), Lancaster Bomber (USA), Nathra (IRE), Persuasive (IRE), Sir John Lavery (IRE), Thunder Snow (IRE), War Decree (USA), Hydrangea (IRE), Rhododendron (IRE), Roly Poly (USA), Sea of Grace (IRE), Winter (IRE)