Richard Fahey sets out QEII aim for Ribchester on Champions Day

Wed 9 Aug 2017

Richard Fahey has confirmed the Qipco Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in October as his "first choice" target for stable star Ribchester.

Having already landed the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot this season, the Godolphin-owned four-year-old was a warm order for the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood last week, but suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Here Comes When.

Fahey has withdrawn his charge from this weekend's Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville and the QEII on October 21, in which he finished second to Minding last season, is his main aim.

"He's absolutely fine after the race (at Goodwood)," said Fahey.

"I might give him a break and wait for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, but either way Champions Day is the first choice.

"I haven't entered him for the Champion Stakes as I think we're going to stick at a mile with him for the time being. Ribchester ran very respectably in the race last year against a filly who was something special and I honestly believe he is a better horse this year.

"Quite what happened at Goodwood I'm still not sure, but I suspect it was a mistake to try to make the running and that was my mistake.

"It was a horrible, horrible day, not just in terms of the going, but also with the weather, and he may have just got sick of having the rain and the wind blowing right into his face up the straight.

"They were proper extreme conditions. It was just one of those things and we all live to fight another day."

Ribchester is one of 48 entries for the QEII, which carries a total prize fund of £1.1million.

A potential rematch with Here Comes When could be on the cards, with his trainer Andrew Balding also entering the fast-improving Thoroughbred Stakes winner Beat The Bank.

Balding said: "The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes will come under very serious consideration for both of them.

"Here Comes When is absolutely bouncing after Goodwood - he's in great form and British Champions Day is attractive for him. He's better when lightly-raced and if he were to run at all before, it might be in a Group Two race in Milan, where he doesn't have to carry a Group One penalty.

"Beat The Bank is only a three-year-old and we have to be careful not to over-face him this year as there is lots to look forward to. But he seems versatile and Ascot will certainly be coming under consideration."

Aidan O'Brien has given the option to dual 2000 Guineas hero Churchill and dual 1000 Guineas heroine Winter, among others.

Saeed bin Suroor has entered Thunder Snow, who was last seen landing the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly and is entered in the Jacques Le Marois on Sunday.

The Godolphin trainer said: "He worked really well on Saturday and has been a star horse for me this year. I would like to run him at Ascot on British Champions Day and we will look at both the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the Champion Stakes nearer the time.

"He has only run over a mile in Europe this year, but he saw out the extended nine furlongs strongly in the UAE Derby and I don't think stamina will be any problem over a mile and a quarter if we go for that race."

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