Churchill to be targeted at York's £1m Juddmonte International
Aidan O’Brien revealed on Monday that his dual Classic winner Churchill, a last minute withdrawal from last week’s Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, was unlikely to be re-routed to Deauville this Sunday for the Group 1 Prix Jacques Le Marois and head instead to York’s Ebor meeting at the end of the month for the £1 million Juddmonte International Stakes.
So impressive in winning both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas, the son of Galileo blotted his copybook somewhat when putting in a lack-lustre effort when only a never dangerous fourth behind Barney Roy in Royal Ascot’s St James’s Palace Stakes, the colt’s first defeat since making his racecourse debut at the Curragh back in May 2016.
A top price 5-1 with several bookmakers including William Hill, Coral and Betfred for the 1m 2 1/2f Group 1 on the Knavesmire, Churchill will be attempting a trip further than a mile for the first time and is sure to face stiff opposition in the possible shape of Sandown’s Eclipse 1-2, Ulysses and Barney Roy.
O’Brien will be attempting to win York’s feature race for a sixth time, the master of Ballydoyle’s most recent success coming with that of Australia in 2014. As well as Churchill the stable are responsible for another right entries, the most significant being that of Highland Reel, Winter and Cliffs Of Moher.
With Churchill set to give France a miss along with Barney Roy and Le Brivado Paddy Power make Qipco 2000 Guineas third Al Wukair 5-4 favourite for the Jacque Le Marois ahead of potential English challenger Ribchester at 7-4 and another Godolphin-owned contender in Thunder Snow, third best in the Irish firm’s market at 5-1.
Despite the possibility of a depleted field on Sunday Ribchester’s trainer Richard Fahey is in no hurry to commit last week’s Sussex Stakes runner-up, saying: “ I’m still taking my time. It’s got nothing to do with these other horses coming out, it’s got to do with how the horse is, and he seems fine at the moment.”