Jim Crowley: “It could be a huge couple of days”
Coral ambassador previews his Irish Champion Stakes & Irish St Leger rides
I’m off to Ireland for their Champions weekend, normally I’d be riding at Doncaster at their Leger meeting, so this is something different for me, but with two big rides in Group Ones to look forward to, it could be a huge couple of days.
Elarqam ran such a good race at York [Juddmonte International] last month, you could arguably say he was a little bit unlucky that day, we did get outpaced two furlongs out but he was staying on well in the last furlong when we were just short of space.
He’s been supplemented into the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes, as it looks the ideal race for him now, the stiff uphill Leopardstown finish should really suit this horse.
We’re drawn in stall 8, this horse is tactically versatile so from there we can go forward early if need be.
Of our rivals, Magical has come up against Enable on her last two runs, and obviously coming off second-best against that superstar is far from bad form, so I can see why she’s favourite here, while Headman is an unexposed type, we don’t know how good he is but he needs to step up again here.
Sheikh Hamdan’s other runner, Madhmoon, has strong form, having finished second in the Derby, and this trip looks to be his best, so he has a good chance, while the Derby winner [Anthony Van Dyck] himself and the Japanese mare Deirdre, who looked good when winning at Glorious Goodwood [the Nassau], add to what is a competitive field, but there’s no superstar like a Golden Horn or an Enable to be scared of here, and I think I’ve got a great chance.
It’s great that the boss has added Elarqam to this race, it’s really sporting of him. If we’d have got the run at York I think we’d have gone very close to winning the International, and the first two from that race, Japan and Crystal Ocean aren’t running here, so yes, I’m really looking forward to this!
My other big ride this weekend is Salouen in the Irish St Leger.
When I got off him at Ascot after the King George, where we finished a good fourth, the first thing I said to connections was if we’re going to get further improvement from this horse, you need to go up in trip with him.
He’s a high class, consistent horse, who has run some lovely races over a mile and a half, but against the very best, in Group Ones and Twos, he just falls short at that level.
We won’t know until we try here whether he stays the extra two furlongs, but if we don’t try we will never know, and I believe if he does see out the one mile six furlongs he’ll run a big race, and who knows, if it all went well over this trip, he could even make up into a Cup horse in the future.
He’d always been ridden prominently over a mile and a quarter, mile and a half, and had some hard races making the running, so at Ascot I held him up, gave him a chance to ride a finish, and he really enjoyed it.
It’s a very open looking race, with plenty of quality in the field, but similar to the Irish Champion, there’s not a superstar horse to be scared of. If he’s ever going to win a Group One, this could be his chance, if he stays, he must go close to winning.