Irish Champions Weekend: the big questions on day two

Order Of St George (Ryan Moore)

Order Of St George: will he get his chance in the Arc?

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

 By Justin O’Hanlon 7:30aM 11 SEP 2016 

The Longines Irish Champions Weekend concludes at the Curragh today and Justin O’Hanlon tackles the big talking points on another fascinating day’s racing.

Is this the springboard for an Order Of St George Arc bid?
The general consensus is that today’s Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger is a mere formality and if Order Of St George turns up in remotely the same sort of form as he did 12 months ago that consensus will be justified.

The question will quickly move on though to what next? The Melbourne Cup seems to be ruled out, the Long Distance Cup at Ascot would not get anybody excited, which leaves the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Yesterday’s results for the Ballydoyle team at Leopardstown may have a bearing on that, but there seems little reason why Order Of St George should not be a potent challenger in the race.

He has a potent turn of foot for a stayer, and his extraordinary versatility was shown by his ability to win over 2m4f in an Ascot Gold Cup when arguably 1m6f is a trip that is particularly effective for a horse of his pace and power. A drop back to 1m4f at Chantilly when there is a good chance of some ease in the ground would make him a real player.

Rhododendron and Seamie Heffernan

Rhododendron takes on stablemate Promise To Be True today

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (  

Can the Ballydoyle juveniles be touched today?
Probably not. Even if Promise To Be True does slip up in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, it looks likely to be at the hands of stable companion Rhododendron.

The Vincent O’Brien National Stakes is somewhat more interesting. Churchill has only really done what he had to on his most recent two victories at Leopardstown and the Curragh, but he is facing his most potent adversary yet in the admirably tough Mehmas, a colt that has twice beaten good Ballydoyle colt Intelligence Cross and got as close to Caravaggio in the Coventry Stakes as any horse has in stakes company this year. There may not be much between the two if Mehmas proves as effective over the extra furlong.

Andrea Atzeni riding Take Cover

Take Cover: holds every chance in the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five

  PICTURE: Getty Images  

What of the British challenge today?
No less than 42 overseas raiders make their way to the Curragh today, a truly staggering number with a mind-boggling 23 of the 30 runners in the Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sales Stakes being trained in Britain.

As ever, the meat of the challenge in terms of strength will be in the sprints. David O’Meara’s Intisaab and last year’s winner George Bowen from the stable of Richard Fahey head a seven-strong British challenge for the opening Bold Lad Sprint Handicap, while Nunthorpe third Take Cover looks the most obvious of their six-pronged attack on the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five. It can almost be termed a shock when that type of race fails to go for export.

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