Aidan O'Brien favouring Matron option with Winter

Mon 4 Sep 2017

Winter is unlikely to take on stablemate Churchill in Saturday's Irish Champion Stakes, with the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes her probable target at Leopardstown.

The three-year-old filly has carried all before her this season, winning the English and Irish Guineas, the Coronation Stakes and the Nassau at Goodwood over 10 furlongs.

There had been rumblings Aidan O'Brien might let her take on the boys in the feature race of the weekend, but the Ballydoyle handler is leaning towards keeping her to her own sex instead.

"It's definitely a possibility, but I'd say the Matron is the favourite at the moment," said O'Brien. "She's had a little break since the last day she ran and she's done very well."

Meanwhile, Michael Halford has high hopes for Riyazan on Irish Champions Weekend after his impressive debut win.

The Aga Khan-owned colt bolted up at the Curragh last month, looking a very smart prospect in the process.

He will step up in class for a Group Three event on Saturday at Leopardstown, heading up Halford's team for the big weekend after several other possibles were sold abroad.

"Riyazan has done very well since he won first time out at the Curragh. He's had a trouble-free run," said Halford.

"He won like a smart horse and it's not like one of ours to pick up and quicken like that first time out. He lugged across the track a bit, but it was only through greenness.

"He will run in the Group Three Willis Towers Watson Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown. Katiymann will also go there for the Sovereign Path Handicap.

"Irishcorrespondent, Yulong Xionghu and Vincy, who won well last month in the Curragh, have all been sold to Hong Kong."

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