Winter stands tall in Matron despite 7-2 quote for Irish Champion

Tue 5 Sep 2017

By staff

Winter is the star name among 14 fillies and mares to stand their ground for the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday, despite being as short as 7-2 for the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes later on the card.

The daughter of Galileo has won the English and Irish versions of the 1000 Guineas, the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood this season, and will be a warm order to stretch her top-level tally to five if turning up for this one-mile Group One.

The grey is a best-priced 6-1 with bet365 and William Hill for the Irish Champion Stakes, with Ladbrokes ducking under the parapet with their 7-2 quote.

Stable companion Churchill, who was pulled from the Sussex Stakes at the 11th hour due to heavy rain before running second to Ulysses in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York last month, is now no better than 11-10 with Paddy Power and Betfair. Rain is expected in Dublin on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien is unsurprisingly well represented in the Matron, with Winter joined by stablemates Hydrangea, Rain Goddess, Rhododendron and Roly Poly.

There are four potential British challengers. Persuasive, runner-up 12 months ago for John Gosden, looks set to return, while the William Haggas-trained Sea Of Grace, Hugo Palmer's Unforgetable Filly and Wuheida from Charlie Appleby's yard could also make the journey across the Irish Sea.

Fozzy Stack's Diamond Fields, Tony Martin's Laganore, Jim Bolger's Bean Feasa and the Joseph O'Brien-trained Intricately make up the home team.

The field is completed by Jean-Claude Rouget's top-class French filly Qemah, who was beaten into third place when a hot favourite for last year's renewal.

Qemah's participation was confirmed by Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners Al Shaqab Racing.

"It is very much the intention to run Qemah," he said.

"Jean-Claude has told me she is in very good form and we're looking forward to running."

Alpha Centauri is likely to face the full force of Aidan O'Brien's team of hugely talented juvenile fillies in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

Jessica Harrington's youngster has not been seen since losing her unbeaten record in the Albany at Royal Ascot to Different League.

O'Brien could run any of Duchess of Cambridge winner Clemmie, Chesham heroine September as well as the first two from the Debutante Stakes in Magical and Happily or Ballet Shoes.

Eddie Lynam's Muirin created a big impression on her debut and is also among the 11 confirmations.

Jim Bolger has left in Active Approach, Gasta and New To Town, with Dermot Weld's once-raced Chiara Luna completing the field

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