Awtaad team hoping for flying send off in QEII

Awtaad goes to the QEII “in very good form”

  PICTURE: Peter Mooney  

 By Brian Sheerin 7:15aM 10 OCT 2016 

IRISH 2,000 Guineas hero Awtaad is reported to be in great shape as he bids to bow out on a winning note in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

The son of Cape Cross was an impressive winner of the Group 2 Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown last time, and veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast is relishing stepping him back into Group 1 company.

He said: “I know my horse is very well. Group 1s aren’t easily won but he goes there in very good form.”

Derrinstown Stud will welcome Awtaad to their stallion roster in 2017, and Saturday’s race is likely to be his curtain call on the racetrack.

“It’s more than likely this is his last run, so let’s hope he can come out of it with flying colours,” Prendergast added.

Chris Hayes has been on board Awtaad for all his races and is also expecting a big run in the Qipco-backed Group 1 at Ascot.

“He was very impressive at Leopardstown,” Hayes said.

“The manner of his win that day was very good and I think it was a really good training performance by Kevin as he arrived on a bit of a retrieval mission.

“He’s trained to the minute for Ascot and it looks to be one of the biggest races of the year. He’s ready to rock and roll so hopefully can sign off with a big run.”

O’Brien looks to finalise team

Minding or Alice Springs could give Ireland a strong hand in the QEII, though their trainer Aidan O’Brien is unlikely to firm up his Champions Day team until Tuesday or Wednesday.

O’Brien has 20 Group/Grade 1 Flat wins for the year and is set to bid for more top-level success not just in Europe but in North America this weekend.

He said: “The plan is to send Idaho for the Canadian International at Woodbine on Sunday, when Best In The World will represent us in the EP Taylor Stakes.”

Idaho stumbled and fell when odds-on for the St Leger last month, while Best In The World finished runner-up in the Group 2 Blandford Stakes last time.

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