Skip to main content
Picture: Luxembourg: returned from a near four-month absence with victory at the Curragh in August
 
By David Jennings (Deputy Ireland editor Racing Post)
 
Ryan Moore is convinced the best is yet to come from Luxembourg and thinks a superior version of the highly regarded colt will be revealed in Saturday’s Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes.
 
Luxembourg will need to be just that given most of the big guns stood their ground at Tuesday’s five-day forfeit stage, most notably the two who fought out a thrilling finish in July to the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in Vadeni and Mishriff.
 
There is a real international flavour to the €1 million contest at Leopardstown as Grand Prix de Paris winner Onesto, from the Fabrice Chappet stable, looks set to join Vadeni to form a powerful challenge from France. The William Haggas-trained Alenquer and Mishriff are the two British challengers remaining in the field.
 
Luxembourg spent all winter and spring at the head of the Derby market before injury ruled him out of the Classic and bookmakers were not impressed by his return to action in the Group 3 Royal Whip Stakes at the Curragh last month, with Paddy Power pushing him out to 5-1 (from 4) for the Irish Champion immediately after his narrow win at odds of 2-9.
 
However, Moore, who won last year’s race on St Mark’s Basilica, is expecting a much-improved performance on Saturday. He said: “It obviously hasn’t been a straightforward year for Luxembourg. He had a lovely two-year-old campaign and then a lovely run in the Guineas but, unfortunately, he wasn’t right after that race.
 
“He needed his run at the Curragh last month. He got the job done but we’d be hopeful he can come forward from the Curragh. A mile and a quarter around Leopardstown with a bit of rain around shouldn’t be a problem for him. He needs to improve on what he’s done this year but I think you’ll see a better version of him on Saturday. Hopefully he runs a really big race.”
 
Moore added: “It was his first run for a while. He still felt a little bit raw. He picked up very well, but was a bit idle in front. When the second horse came to him he found plenty. It was a good starting point back.”
 
Luxembourg has been nibbled back into 4-1 as Aidan O’Brien attempts to win the Irish Champion Stakes for a record-extending 11th time and a fourth year in a row. Vadeni is Paddy Power’s 11-8 favourite with Mishriff next best at 7-2. Onesto is 6-1 and it is 10-1 bar.
 
Moore agreed with Vadeni’s position at the top of the market, saying: “He beat the older horses in the Eclipse and he’s entitled to be favourite, although maybe Mishriff was a bit unfortunate that day. He’s still open to improvement and Jean Claude-Rouget has a good record in the race and he likes to target the Irish Champion Stakes.”
 
Homeless Songs was the star name among the 13 remaining in the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes, but Moore thinks Tenebrism could be a dark horse in the line-up and believes Leopardstown will suit her style of running. He did admit it will be hard to reverse Prix Rothschild form with the Jane Chapple-Hyam-trained Saffron Beach, however.
 
Moore said: “It was a good run from Tenebrism in France. She had won the Jean Prat and I think going back to Leopardstown will suit her, although it will be hard to turn around the form with Saffron Beach, I suppose. Tenebrism’s still a three-year-old filly and she’s still getting better.
 
“She was still a little bit green when she went to Ascot, then she won in Deauville but the last day didn’t go quite as smoothly as I would have liked it to have done. Hopefully we can get closer to Jane’s filly this time.”
 
Kyprios will not meet old rival Stradivarius again in the Comer Group International Irish St Leger at the Curragh on Sunday after the evergreen John and Thady Gosden-trained stayer was not supplemented.
 
The Gold Cup hero will face a maximum of 12 rivals, which include the Joseph O’Brien-trained pair Raise You and Cleveland, and Moore is looking forward to the challenge.
 
Moore said: “Kyprios has done nothing wrong this year, he’s four from four. I’ve been very happy with him on all his starts. A mile and six at the Curragh is a different test but I think it will suit him well. He’s an uncomplicated horse who is a pleasure to ride.
 
“He has a big engine and stays very well. He has plenty of class for those staying races. Everything you ask of him, he comes up with an answer. He puts his head down and fights.”
 
It is a big weekend for the Ballydoyle juveniles with some high-profile names putting their reputations on the line.
 
The unbeaten Albany Stakes winner Meditate will bid to make it five from five in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, while Aesop’s Fables, Auguste Rodin, Cairo and Hans Andersen are all among the nine possibles for the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes. Both races are at the Curragh on Sunday.
 
Moore said of the two-year-old brigade: “Meditate is a high-class filly who won both her starts before she went to Ascot. I was happy with her in the Debutante. She was having a look at a few things there and didn’t like the cameraman on the way back. I’m very happy with what she has done so far this year.
 
“I’ve always liked Aesop’s Fables. He started off early at Navan and won comfortably. Unfortunately he had a minor setback and we couldn’t get a run into him between then and the Futurity. He was really good inside the final furlong in the Futurity.
 
“He was green at halfway but once I asked him, he dug in and picked up very well. I was impressed by him. He’s a very well-made, strong colt. In the paddock before the Futurity, I thought he really stood out.
 
“Hans Andersen is a really good colt with a super attitude. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stepped forward again. These horses are all still improving and it’s early days. We’re still getting to know what suits them best. I think he’ll be a really nice colt next season.”
 
Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes (3.45 Saturday, Leopardstown)
 

Paddy Power: 11-8 Vadeni, 7-2 Mishriff, 4 Luxembourg, 6 Onesto, 10 La Pettite Coco, 20 bar