Churchill sets up Royal Ascot tilt with comfortable victory in Irish 2000 Guineas

Sat 27 May 2017

Churchill became Aidan O'Brien's 11th winner of the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday. Read our report from the action in Ireland.

Churchill could now face Barney Roy and Al Wukair, the two horses he beat at Newmarket this month, at Royal Ascot (Racingfotos)

By staff

Churchill completed a Classic double with a comfortable victory in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

Last season's champion juvenile after winning five of his six starts, Aidan O'Brien's colt made a successful reappearance in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket three weeks ago and was a prohibitively priced 4-9 favourite to follow up back on home soil.

His stable companions Lancaster Bomber and Spirit Of Valor gave him a nice lead into the race and while Godolphin's Thunder Snow did his best to make a race of it, Churchill ultimately saw him off by two and a half lengths under Ryan Moore in the rain-softened ground.

Moore said: "He's been such a pleasure to ride from day one.

"We went a good gallop and he relaxes so well, but you could just tell he wasn't really enjoying the ground.

"I had to pick him up and when I asked him, he picked up Christophe (Soumillon, on Thunder Snow) a lot sooner than what I expected him to do.

"I think he's a very talented horse, he does everything you want him to do as a jockey and he ticks all the boxes.

"He goes to sleep on you and he's such a good mover, that's the thing that always stands out with him.

"When you sit on him, there's a lot of power underneath you and he never misses a beat.

O'Brien was winning the race for the 11th time and has now trained seven of the last 10 winners of the first Classic of the Irish season.

Churchill becomes the fourth Ballydoyle inmate to complete the Guineas double following the previous successes of Rock Of Gibraltar (2002), Henrythenavigator (2008) and Gleneagles (2015).

O'Brien said: "He's a great horse and we're delighted with him.

"He sleeps, he relaxes and he quickens. He's a very exciting horse.

"The ground was a concern, but Donnacha (O'Brien) rides him in all his work and he said it'd be no problem, so that gave us great confidence to keep going.

"He's brave and so versatile. Ground and trip all come alike to him and he has a lovely demeanour. He saves all the petrol, and when you ask him to quicken he quickens.

"Coming here we were thinking we'd go from here to Ascot and he'll probably go for the St James's Palace Stakes.

"He'd have no problem stepping up to 10 furlongs later in the year. He's so relaxed and chilled."

Churchill is Evens to add the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot at the expense of the two horses he beat at Newmarket in Barney Roy, who is 3-1, and Al Wukair, who is 7-1. 

Thunder Snow, who, like Barney Roy, is also owned by Godolphin could also run. 

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said: “Thunder Snow ran very well. He did everything right during the race and was beaten by a better horse on the day. 

“We will keep the options open for him, including the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.”

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