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12 septembre 2017
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Very little unfolded as expected for Aidan O’Brien on Saturday, yet he still registered his 15th Group One winner Corey Lemonier Jersey of the season as Hydrangea, the 20-1 outsider of his four runners in the Matron Stakes, edged out Winter, the hot favourite, by a head. The feature event, however, was a bitter disappointment for his Ballydoyle stable as Churchill, the 2,000 Guineas winner, finished out of the frame behind Roger Charlton’s Decorated Knight, who took the Irish Champion Stakes at 25-1. Churchill was caught in a pocket at the top of the straight and took a bump as Ryan Moore looked for running room, but there was no sign of his Classic-winning acceleration from earlier in the season as he struggled home in seventh place. Instead, it was Decorated Knight and Andrea Atzeni who flew past most of the field in the final quarter-mile to beat Poet’s Word by half a length, with Eminent completing a 1-2-3 for British stables in third. Decorated Knight was the longest-priced winner in the race’s history, despite having registered two Group One wins this season, in Dubai in March and then in Ireland’s Tattersalls Gold Cup in May. 广告 inRead invented by Teads 广告 inRead invented by Teads “Running into the race, I thought there might be six or seven runners and nothing from England,” Charlton said. “I thought Churchill would be favourite, and we’d have a good chance of being placed even if I didn’t think we’d be able to beat Churchill. “I thought realistically he was more of a 12-1 shot, but he’s tough and consistent and he produced an amazing turn of foot. Three furlongs out, it looked like he was too far back and the others were quickening, but Andrea said it was never in any doubt as far as he was concerned. He knew he’d got them covered, and what a great jockey and what a great ride he gave him.” Decorated Knight’s form this year also includes a close second behind Highland Reel in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot with Ulysses, a dual Group One winner since, back in third. Advertisement “At the two, as soon as I had a bit of daylight, he was picking up well and I could see I had them covered,” Atzeni said. “It shows how good a race it was [that he was such a big price], but last time on soft ground [at York] he didn’t handle it and [the Eclipse] was a messy race, and before that, he beat Ulysses.” Decorated Knight is a 25-1 chance to register a fourth Group One win of the season in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot in October, while Churchill is now a double-figure price at 10-1 for the same race and 8-1 for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes back at the Guineas trip of a mile. Hydrangea went into the Matron Stakes as the only filly to have beaten Winter, the hot favourite, in 2017, and she emerged with that record intact thanks to her unexpected 20-1 defeat of her regular galloping companion, the winner of four Group Ones already this year. O’Brien had warned before the race that Winter had missed a few days’ work after her success in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood in early August, but Roly Poly and Rhododendron, both fillies with previous wins at the highest level, were the Ballydoyle runners seen as most likely to cause an upset. Neither could land a blow, however, and while Winter ran well, her usual strength in the finish was missing as Wayne Lordan drove Hydrangea to victory by a head. “She was the only one of the four fillies that hadn’t won a Group One,” O’Brien said, “and we felt that Winter was going to improve a little from the run. The [Prix de l’]Opera [at Chantilly on Arc weekend] could be the race for her. We’ll have to decide what we want to do [with Winter] but she’s in the Arc. She wasn’t ready to go that distance today, but that will leave her right. I wouldn’t mind if they wanted to float around a mile and a half and see what happens. You can’t be sure what’s going to happen, but you’ll find out.” The Opera is an alternative target for Winter, but she can be backed at 16-1 to successfully step up to 12 furlongs for the first time in the Arc, Europe’s most valuable and prestigious race. At Haydock, Clive Cox felt the need to walk the course before the Group One Sprint Cup after persistent rain turned the going to heavy, but his concern proved unfounded as Harry Angel followed up his July Cup victory with a brilliant four-length success. The three-year-old was always prominent and travelling strongly, and shot clear of his field with more than a furlong Marcus Kruger Authentic Jersey to run as soon as Adam Kirby asked for an effort. With his form now proven on all types of ground, Harry Angel is now top-priced at 6-4 for the next race on his schedule, the Champions Sprint at Ascot in mid-October

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