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Hoping for Deirdre’s Coronation on Irish Champions Weekend

13 Sep 2019

I’m off to the motherland on Saturday for the Longines Irish Champions Weekend. It’s a weekend that holds great memories for me having won the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes on the late, great, Roaring Lion last year. He was spectacularly tough and classy that day, and it’s one I won’t ever forget. This year I’m attempting to do it all again, this time on Japanese star Deirdre who landed me more Champions Series glory at Goodwood.

I’ve sat on her twice since her brilliant victory in the Qatar Nassau Stakes – both times we didn’t do too much or give her a hard workout. She’s in similar form going into this as she was going into the race at Goodwood. We’ve got everything crossed that the weather stays dry in Ireland as she wants that fast ground to really show her best. If it does come up on the fast side she has a really great chance. She’s a very high class horse who I feel privileged to ride for brilliant connections.

We’re looking at a strongly run race even with only eight runners. Hunting Horn and Elarqam are likely pacesetters, Madhmoon and Magical will likely sit behind them, and I’ll ride Deirdre where she is comfortable. The trainer has given me an open book to take things as they come.

Obviously I’d be very disappointed if she wasn’t there or thereabouts after such an impressive victory last time – she’s a very high class horse. If she does get some fast ground to suit her, then she has everything in her favour. It’s going left-handed, in a likely strongly run race on a galloping track, it’s going to play to her strengths.

I also ride Machine Learner in the Petingo Premier Handicap at 2.30 that day, he has been running well and has been trained with this race in mind. He’s had a few Irish trips before and was only just beaten at Galway one time. He gets in off a nice weight of 9st 4 and he’s got a decent draw as well to enhance his chances.

I ride the Shawaamekh for Declan Carroll in the Sovereign Path Premier Handicap who has won his last two races. He’s operating on a 90 mark. He’s been in super form this season. Mr Carroll booked me two weeks ago for this so hopefully that is a good omen.

I’ve been given the ride on the ultra-consistent Matterhorn who ran a cracker in 2nd at Haydock last weekend. He’ll likely be 2nd favourite for this Group 2 over a mile. He always runs to his rating of 110 and that would be nearly good enough for this. Like Deirdre he would want the ground to come up faster.

Unfortunately my commitments across the Irish Sea mean that I won’t be riding in the William Hill St Leger on the same day. This year has a small but extremely high class field declared. I think Aidan O’Brien’s Sir Dragonet represents strong form, especially his win over at Chester earlier in the year. His best form seems to come on slow ground, which he’s unlikely to get at Doncaster.

He’s up against it with hot favourite Logician having done nothing wrong so far in his unbeaten career. He was so impressive in his latest start at York and I know Frankie Dettori is confident. John Gosden also knows how to win this race and if someone gave me a choice he’d be my pick to ride. I know Dashing Willoughby well and I think he’ll run a big race, he’s a straightforward horse and it will play to his strengths if there is a strong pace. I think he’ll be in the first three.