Runner-up to Minding 12 months ago, Sheikh Mohammed’s champion – now a four-time Group One winner – is favourite for the £1.1m race, one of the centrepieces of Qipco British Champions Day.
Victorious this season in the Lockinge Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes and, on his latest start, the Qatar Prix du Moulin, Ribchester’s only reverse came in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood when Here Comes When was a shock winner for the Andrew Balding yard in a messily run contest.
Balding will also be represented by Beat The Bank while Aidan O’Brien has left in dual Guineas winner Churchill and triple Group One winner Roly Poly as he seeks a record-equalling 25th win this year at the highest level.
However this does not perturb Malton-based Fahey who has not ruled out sending Ribchester to the season-ending Breeders Cup in America if he passes his toughest test to date. “Everything has gone according to plan,” said the trainer.
“He’s a very easy horse to train with no issues, touch wood. I’m able to get the work into him when I want and he’s a very willing horse who enjoys his work, which is a huge help.
“He tends to go on any ground. When he got beaten at Goodwood I’m not blaming the [heavy] ground, I’m blaming the conditions – it was blowing a gale and pouring down with the rain. It was a horrible day. If you’ve ever run yourself in rain and wind, it’s not comfortable and it just caught him out but he’s bounced back and won a Group 1 in France since so we are very happy and comfortable with him.”
Blond Me is set to round off her racing career in Hong Kong later this year after claiming Group One glory in Canada on Sunday.
Winner of York’s Middleton Stakes in May, the five-year-old adapted to the soft ground at Woodbine under jockey Oisin Murphy to land the prestigious E.P. Taylor Stakes.
Murphy’s second Group One success of the month following Aclaim’s win on Arc day, trainer Andrew Balding said: “She retires at the end of the season and will probably have one last go in Hong Kong, in either the Vase or the Cup, and finish her career then.”
North Yorkshire jump jockey Andrew Thornton, 44, makes his comeback at Worcester today after 10 months on the sidelines.
He injured ligaments, and required three operations, after landing awkwardly when he rode his 1,000th winner aboard Kentford Myth at Wincanton on Boxing Day.
Ironically, the weighing room veteran partners Kentford Myth today.
Beverley and Pontefract have both been shortlisted in four categories at this year’s Racecourse Association awards in recognition of their outstanding promotional work.