Breeders' Cup Mile target for Roger Charlton's Knight in shining armour

Sun 10 Sep 2017

The Breeders' Cup Mile has emerged as a target for Decorated Knight following his brilliant success in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.

Roger Charlton's charge won the Group One Jebel Hatta at Meydan earlier in the year and struck gold at the highest level for a second time in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in late May.

He ran another excellent race when chasing home Highland Reel in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot, but having disappointed slightly in both the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and the Juddmonte International at York, he was a 25-1 shot for his return to Ireland.

However, after being given a patient ride by Andrea Atzeni, Decorated Knight stormed home to claim victory, and a potential final career outing at Del Mar in early November is now under serious consideration.

"All is good today. He's on his way home and he's in good shape," said Charlton.

"He'd been a bit disappointing a couple of times for one reason or another, but I thought he was given a superb ride yesterday and we were obviously delighted with him.

"At one stage we were thinking York could be his last run. With the way the weather is, it's very difficult to make plans.

"We were hoping the ground might stay right for Leopardstown and, as it turned out, they missed most of the rain and that encouraged us to go.

"I was thinking Leopardstown would be his last run, but the Breeders' Cup Mile at Del Mar is something we're now looking at.

"That is seven weeks away, so it gives us plenty of time and that will probably be his swansong. After that I would hope we can find him a nice place at stud somewhere."

Decorated Knight holds an entry in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 21, but Charlton added: "I think we're more likely to go to America than Ascot as there is less risk of the ground going against us.

"He wouldn't do both. It will be one or the other."

Beaten just half a length into second by Decorated Knight was the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Poet's Word.

The four-year-old was stepping up in class and down in distance after winning the Group Three Glorious Stakes at Goodwood and having acquitted himself so well, the Champion Stakes at Ascot is his likely next port of call.

Bruce Raymond, racing manager for owner Saeed Suhail, said: "He ran a great race and was just a bit unfortunate to get beaten by a horse that was following him.

"He certainly showed he has the speed for a mile and a quarter. They went very fast in front and that suited him.

"He's an improving horse and his home work has definitely improved a lot in the last few weeks. I was getting the vibe that Sir Michael was keen to go to Leopardstown and he ran very well.

"He definitely goes for the Champion Stakes next. That was the plan beforehand, at least. The owner was quite insistent that is where he wanted the horse to run.

"Knowing how Sir Michael likes to look after his horses, I would imagine that will be his last run of the season. He'll stay in training next year, for sure."

Rounding off a British one-two-three was Martyn Meade's stable star Eminent.

The son of Frankel made much of the running under Frankie Dettori, only giving way in the final furlong.

"I thought he ran a great race," said Meade.

"It's always difficult under those sort of tactics, but he's been beaten by two better horses on the day.

"I think maybe the ground was a bit softer on the rail and those in the middle of the track had a bit of an advantage.

"The ground was a bit quicker when he won the Group Two at Deauville and if we had our ideal conditions, which you need if you're going to win Group Ones, we'd have liked faster ground."

Eminent holds a Champion Stakes entry, but is set to be given a well-earned break.

"I think we'll finish him for the season now and as we've said all along, I think he'll be bigger and stronger as a four-year-old once he's grown into his frame," Meade added.

"It's a shame we haven't managed to win a Group One with him this year, but he's won a Group Three and Group Two and run creditably in the Classics.

"I don't think we'll start him off too early next year. We'll maybe look at something like the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.

"I don't think we'll need to give him a prep run. He's a clean-winded horse who is pretty easy to get fit, so it could be that we go straight there.

"We live to fight another day."

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