York hero Ghaiyyath to run at Leopardstown ‘if it’s right for the horse’

CHARLIE Appleby has revealed a decision on whether York hero Ghaiyyath goes for the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday week is likely to be made at the weekend.

Future plans are being considered for Ghaiyyath after his landmark success in York's Juddmonte International under William Buick.

The Godolphin-owned five-year-old has been a revelation this year and is currently rated the best horse in the world after a hat-trick of Group One victories in the Coronation Cup, Coral-Eclipse Stakes and Juddmonte International.

He has other possible targets in the autumn, including the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Qipco Champion Stakes.

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As it stands, the Leopardstown race would require a new jockey having to be fouund for Ghaiyyath as visitors to Ireland have to spend 14 days in quarantine due to Covid-19.

Ghaiyyath's trainer Charlie Appleby.

This explains why Ryan Moore, Coolmore’s retained rider, is now in isolation in Ireland – he’s committed to riding Aidan O’Brien’s top horses on Irish Champions Weekend.

In contrast Ghaiyyath’s regular rider William Buick is continuing to compete here because he still has an outside chance of overhauling Oisin Murphy, the current pacesetter, in the race to become champion jockey.

“We’ve got our eye on the Irish Champion Stakes, but we’ve got another 10 days to go yet so we’ve not rubber-stamped anything,” said Appleby, who hopes dispensation will be made for elite jockeys to travel to Ireland.

“First and foremost he’s come out of the race at York well. If we feel it’s the right race to go for then that’s where we will head. We’ll have discussions with connections during the course of the week and hopefully start to firm up things by the weekend.

Ghaiyyath was greeted by emprty stands when winning the Juddmonte International at York's Ebor Festival last month.

“We’ve seen what he can do over the mile and a quarter, but we’ve not got to go too far back to what we saw in the Coronation Cup when he broke the track record at Newmarket.

“His last two starts over a mile and a quarter have been very impressive, but I felt he was impressive enough in the Coronation over a mile and a half. We’re in a very fortunate position to have a horse like him at 10 or 12 furlongs.

“We’ve got the Arc, we’ve got Champions Day at Ascot and we’ve got Breeders’ Cup in the picture as well. We will do what’s right for the horse. The signs are good so far.”

Meanwhile, conditions look like being on the easy side for the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday, without being in the extreme.

Clerk of the course Kirkland Tellwright described the ground as good to soft yesterday ahead of the track’s three-day flagship Flat fixture which begins today.

Even so, Tellwright does not anticipate the ground being any more testing than soft.

“We are good to soft. It might rain later today and tomorrow. We might get six millimetres,” said Tellwright.

“I think the best scenario in terms of ground for Saturday is good to soft, worse case is soft.”

Tellwright is looking forward to the highlight of the fixture at the weekend when the Kevin Ryan-trained Hello Youmzain attempts to become only the second dual winner of the Sprint Cup after Be Friendly, owned by the late Sir Peter O’Sullevan, won the first two renewals in 1966 and 1967.

“There have been several who have gone close to winning the race twice,” he said. “Gordon Lord Byron went close and Tim Easterby’s horse that went on soft ground (Somnus) he went close to it as well. They won one and were placed in one or two.

“After Be Friendly, no-one has won more than one.

“It’s slightly disappointing Oxted is out, but it still looks like being a nice race. We’ve got last year’s winner (Hello Youmzain) and the one from the year before (The Tin Man). There are a few old friends in it.”

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James Mitchinson