Moore hails 'brilliant' Churchill as he opens up about O'Brien stars
Ryan Moore's faith in Churchill remains undiminished and Ballydoyle's number one jockey is looking forward to the dual 2,000 Guineas winner stepping up in trip in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York this month.
Churchill was revealed by Aidan O'Brien on Monday to be a likely runner in the £1 million showpiece at York on Wednesday week from among his nine entries, which also include Highland Reel and Cliffs Of Moher, after which bookmakers cut him to a best-priced 5-1 shot.
The York Group 1 market is headed at 3-1 by Barney Roy, who had Churchill back in fourth when winning the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
Churchill was a 1-2 chance that day but never really got into the race and his jockey believes he can bounce back on the Knavesmire.
"Things just didn't go his way in the St James's Palace Stakes," said Moore on Wednesday. "York is a lovely track and hopefully it should suit him."
Depending on how Churchill fares at York, the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes could be on his agenda next month, and Moore underlined his faith in the colt by adding: "Churchill is a brilliant horse."
Moore was speaking in Dublin as he attended the launch of Longines Irish Champions weekend, which takes place at Leopardstown and the Curragh on September 9 and 10.
As well as Churchill in the Irish Champion at Leopardstown, Moore could have fellow dual Guineas winner Winter to look forward to the same day, for she has the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes on her agenda, it was revealed on Wednesday.
Moore has enjoyed three Group 1 victories on Winter this season, most recently in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood last week, when she tackled a mile and a quarter for the first time.
The jockey said: "She's a very special filly and got the trip well in the Nassau on testing ground. She's proved herself to be very adaptable in terms of ground and trip, and is a very straightforward filly who has improved through the season."
Winter, who before Goodwood became a dual 1,000 Guineas winner and then landed the Coronation Stakes, holds entries at York in the International and Darley Yorkshire Oaks, while she is also ante-post favourite for the Irish Champion at a best-priced 7-2.
However, O'Brien said: "Winter is well entered up but at this stage we're looking at going back to a mile with her in the Matron Stakes. She's come out of her Goodwood win well."
O'Brien referred this week to Caravaggio having a problem with his feet following his disappointing performance in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last Sunday, and Moore confirmed the colt felt uncomfortable during that Group 1 event.
He said: "Things didn't go right and he wasn't letting himself down at Deauville.
"Aidan said he was sore when he got back home, and I certainly haven't lost faith in him. He's a high-class colt – he showed that last year, and again at Naas and Royal Ascot this season."
Asked about what two-year-olds have impressed him most this year, Moore, speaking at the Merrion Hotel having earlier visited the Dublin Horse Show, replied: "I suppose the two that stand out are Happily, who won the Silver Flash Stakes by five lengths at Leopardstown last month, and The Pentagon, who won the Tyros Stakes on the same card."
More from Moore – Q&A with the leading rider
Q. Do you think the British jockeys' title should revert to starting with the Lincoln meeting and ending on November handicap day?
A. Yes, I'd prefer it that way. I don't really understand why it is the way it is.
Q. What do you make of the British Champion Series as a concept? Should it be ditched?
A. I think the series culminates nicely. All the races involved in the series have a higher profile as a result of the series. For me, there are no negatives.
Q. Do you think Ascot should consider moving the Shergar Cup to a Sunday?
A. It brings big crowds on the Saturday. I don't know about moving it to a Sunday. This year it would clash with the Jacques le Marois and the Phoenix Stakes if it was on the Sunday. It's hard to knock what Ascot have done.
Q. Can you see your Gordon Stakes winner Crystal Ocean handling the step up in trip in the St Leger?
A. Crystal Ocean got the mile and a half very well at Goodwood and I don't see the longer trip troubling him at Doncaster.
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