It sounds like the ode to a looming battle and looks likely to eventuate with trainer Martyn Meade confirming his exciting Frankel colt Eminent will likely return from a Gr2 victory last start in Deauville to take on Ballydoyle's boom colt Churchill in Saturday's Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. According to skysports.com, having shown serious ability at the top level with a sixth in the 2000 Guineas [to Churchill], fourth in the Epsom Derby and fifth in the Coral-Eclipe, Eminent will be partnered by Champion hoop Frankie Dettori in his Irish mission which will likely be his season swansong. Meade commented on the task ahead, "I'm happy to take on Churchill, but there's Winter there as well, so we'll see. We're seriously considering it. The horse is in very good form and Frankie Dettori is booked to ride. I think the win in France did the horse a lot of good." 14 remain in the field at this point including Winter, the 1000 Guineas winning stablemate of Churchill. The Aiden O'Brien stable is also arming itself with Cliffs Of Moher, Lancaster Bomber, Taj Mahal and Hydrangea.
On day one of the famous Royal Ascot carnival in the UK, Coolmore's triple Gr1-winning stallion Excelebration (Exceed and Excel-Sun Shower, by Indian Ridge) celebrated an elite race success when Godolphin’s top-class 3YO colt Barney Roy (Excelebration-Alina, by Galileo) unleashed a powerful and well-timed run to score by 1 length for trainer Richard Hannon in the Gr1 St James’s Palace Stakes (1600m) for 3YOs, defeating Lancaster Bomber (War Front) & fellow Godolphin 3YO Thunder Snow (Helmet). Barney Roy improved his record to 3 wins (including the Gr3 Greenham Stakes) and 1 placing (the Gr1 English 2,000 Guineas) from 4 starts for £372,636 earnings. Trainer Richard Hannon always maintained that Barney Roy had genuine excuses when running Churchill to a length in the English 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket at his previous outing, and he was vindicated with this excellent performance that saw him turn the tables in emphatic fashion on his last start conqueror. "I was confident he'd run his race, not confident he'd win," Hannon told Racing Post. "I just wanted to give him the chance to prove that as I don't think he got that chance in the Guineas. There isn't another Guineas to go at, but that is a good pot." Odds-on favourite Churchill let down his supporters when disappointing in fourth. Aidan O’Brien commented: "He ran well but his form has changed a little bit with Lancaster Bomber. He just didn't pick up for some reason."
At Santa Anita Park in the US, 2YO ridgling Oscar Performance (Kitten's Joy-Devine Actress, by Theatrical) broke through for his first victory at the elite level when scoring by 1.25 lengths for trainer Brian Lynch in the US$1 million Gr1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (8 furlongs) for 2YOs, over 2YO colts Lancaster Bomber (War Front-Sun Shower, by Indian Ridge) & Good Samaritan (Harlan's Holiday-Pull Dancer, by Pulpit). Oscar Performance improved his record to 3 wins from 4 starts for US$720,132 earnings.
At Newmarket in the UK, former Coolmore shuttler and triple Gr1-winning champion European sire Galileo (Sadler's Wells-Urban Sea, by Miswaki) celebrated an elite success when 2YO Irish-bred colt Churchill (Galileo-Meow, by Storm Cat) scored by 1.25 lengths for trainer Aidan O'Brien in the Gr1 Dewhurst Stakes (7 furlongs) for 2YOs, over fellow 2YO colt and stable-mate Lancaster Bomber (War Front-Sun Shower, by Indian Ridge) & Blue Point (Shamardal-Scarlett Rose, by Royal Applause). Owned by the Coolmore triumvirate of Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Mrs John Magnier, Churchill improved his record to 5 wins (including the Gr1 National Stakes & Gr2 Futurity Stakes) and 1 placing from 6 starts for €595,025 earnings. Such was the dominant nature of Churchill's victory that his price for next year's English 2000 Guineas firmed into 2-1. "He's a very relaxed horse and doesn't do a lot in front," O'Brien told Racing Post. "He has a super mind on him and has plenty of pace, so we'll look forward to next year with him. We'll have a chat to lads but he'll be a nice horse to bring back here next May."