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Victor Chandler writes...
5:57pm Friday 6th September 2013 in Sport
The Irish Champion Stakes has moved to the twilight slot at 6.50pm and set for a cracker at Leopardstown.
There's this year's Irish Derby, Yorkshire Oaks, Prince of Wales and International winners in the line-up and it looks the strongest renewal for years.
Declaration of War had the beating of Al Kazeem and Trading Leather at York but if the ground stays quick John Gosden's filly The Fugue will be very hard to beat. She needs it rattling quick and with Trading Leather and Parish Hall expected to set a strong early place the race could fall into her, and William Buicks lap.
Haydock's Betfred Sprint Cup pitches Europe's leading sprinters including dual Diamond Jubilee and Darley July Cup hero Lethal Force for Clive Cox and Adam Kirby. The colt was last seen chasing home Moonlight Cloud in France and he and stable-mate Reckless Abandon give the trainer a great chance of going home with the £141,775 pot.
With the ground currently labelled as Good to Firm, it narrows down a lot of the potential leading players with the likes of Garswood, Intense Pink and Hawkeyethenoo all waiting for the heavens to open.
One who will love the quick ground is Tom Hogan's Gordon Lord Byron (3.50), looking to go one better than chasing home Society Rock here last year. He has had a steady campaign and was behind Lethal Force at Ascot and Deauville but with conditions to suit, there is a good chance the Irish raider can turn the tables on the tough grey.
The Old Borough Cup (3.15) that precedes it looks as competitive as ever and a host of unexposed younger horses taking on hardened handicappers, but the horse that lay in the middle is David O'Meara's Tropical Beat who was an unlucky second here in the race last year.
He has had one run since when chasing home Mark Johnston's Party Line at Musselburgh and from a 5lb higher mark than last year, has to go close.
There are plenty of unexposed 4-y-o's down the bottom of the weights and they look the biggest dangers, Luca Cumani's Semeen and the Mark Johnston filly Scatter Dice.
Richard Hughes has a good book of rides including Superior Mile favourite Montiridge but his best chance on the card looks to be Chief Barker (5.00) in The Ascendant Stakes over a mile.
The colt was impressive on debut and built on that further when winning a Newmarket nursery in game fashion. The Azamour colt steps up to compete for black type and looks to be progressing the right way for the stable that won the race last year, although Johnston's Stars Over The Sea looks a talented colt and is the main danger.
Ascot sees Richard Hannon's talented Pether's Moon go for the mile and a half handicap; however from the burden of top weight preference has to lie with, Cafe Society (3.30) who creeps in on a mark of 89.
He was very unlucky not to win last time out over course and distance from a poor ride from Jamie Spencer and despite a 5lb rise should be able to go one better with Martin Lane in the plate.
Kieren Fallon has a good record at both Ascot and Haydock but goes to Kempton for some impressive prize money, none more so that than the London Mile Handicap at 2.55, where the great man rides George Guru for Michael Attwater.
The old boy knows his way around the track and could spring a surprise over the sexier horses in the race, such as Seek Again and Emilio Largo.