LEOPARDSTOWN, IRELAND (September 9, 2017) – Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar’s 5-year-old homebred Decorated Knight (GB) came sweeping home from last to first at 25-1 to prevail by a half-length over Poet’s Word (IRE) in Saturday’s 1 ¼ mile QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown Racecourse and earned an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) through in the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held for the first time at the Del Mar racetrack near San Diego, California, on November 3-4.
The Irish Champion Stakes was one of three Breeders’ Cup Challenge races held at Leopardstown today. Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith won the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes (G1) with Hydrangea (IRE) for an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), and also won the Willis Towers Champions Juvenile Stakes (G3) with Nelson (IRE) to gain a free spot into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).
Decorated Knight, a chestnut son of Galileo (IRE) out of the Storm Cat mare Pearling, trained by Roger Charlton and ridden by Andrea Atzeni, won his third Group 1 race this year, having previously taken the 1 1/8-mile Jebel Hatta Stakes at Meydan in Dubai on March 4 and the 1 3/8-mile Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh on May 28.
Starting from post 10 in a 10-horse field, Decorated Knight stayed well back on the far outside of pacesetters Eminent (IRE), Success Days (IRE) and the 7-5 favorite, Churchill (IRE), through the top of the stretch. Then both Decorated Knight and, just to his inside, Poet’s Word (10-1), began picking off horses one-by-one in a stirring finish with Decorated Knight holding on for the victory.
Eminent finished third, followed by Moonlight Magic (GB), Taj Mahal (IRE), Cliffs of Moher (IRE), Churchill, Azukova (IRE), The Grey Gatsby (IRE) and Success Days. Improving his career mark to 8 wins in 18 starts, Decorated Knight completed the 1 ¼ miles in 2:08.36 over a course listed as good to yielding.
An ecstatic Charlton told the Racing Post afterward “I can’t believe it. I didn’t come here thinking we were going to win a race like that. We rode for luck. We dropped in and felt they’d go very quick, and his finish down the outside was amazing, absolutely amazing.”
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Michael’s two day Breeders’ Cup Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the two-day championship event from Del Mar on Nov. 3-4.