herald

Thursday 17 August 2017

can free fly in rain?

British Champions Day at Ascot tomorrow has been beset by dark clouds full of rain, disquiet, retirements and alternative arrangements.

But tomorrow's meeting, worth over €5million in prize money, could still yet be lit up by one man - and that is our very own Dermot Weld.

unfavourable

Many good horses will still be on show at Ascot tomorrow, despite the certainty of unfavourable soft ground for most Group One racehorses.

The likelihood is that the surface could even be verging on heavy, but there's no doubt that the man with the most intriguing horses on the card is Weld - providing, of course, both run.

Proceedings will start with the Long Distance Cup which will undoubtedly prove to be a real testing slog over two miles and here Weld is set to unleash potential Ascot Gold Cup hope Forgotten Rules for just his third start and the ground is not likely to affect his chances of participating against the likes of Leading Light and Estimate.

However, the underfoot conditions may have a bearing on whether or not we will see Free Eagle for just the second time this season.

Also owned by Moyglare, Free Eagle spent his winter with a weight of expectation on his back as many felt the son of High Chaparral could develop into a Classic contender for this season until a setback ruled him out until Irish Champions Weekend when he made a scintillating return at Leopardstown.

different

Tomorrow's QIPCO Champion Stakes would see him face a totally different grade with proven horses like Cirrus Des Aigles, Noble Mission and even Ruler Of The World all there to give him an eye-opener into life at the very top level.

Or maybe it will indeed be Free Eagle who stretches out the field and causes eyebrows to be raised.

It's more than possible. If he runs, of course. Fingers crossed.

The day needs a star and Weld could be it.

3see pages 12-13

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