Decorated Knight: English raider earns surprise Irish Champion Stakes win

Andrea Atzeni shows his delight after guiding Decorated Knight to victory in the Irish Champion Stakes
Andrea Atzeni rode Decorated Knight to victory in the Irish Champion Stakes
Irish Champions Weekend
Saturday 9 September: Leopardstown - including Irish Champion Stakes 18:45 BST
Sunday 10 September: The Curragh - including Irish St Leger 16:50

British raider Decorated Knight clinched a surprise 25-1 Irish Champion Stakes victory as dual 2,000 Guineas winner Churchill finished seventh.

The Leopardstown triumph was a second Irish Group One win for Roger Charlton's five-year-old after his Tallersalls Gold Cup success in May.

With Andrea Atzeni on board, the winner's late run held off Poet's Word with Frankie Dettori's Eminent third.

"He had a bad draw and thought the ground would be too soft," said Atzeni.

"We didn't know whether to run him or not but it's actually nice ground out there.

"It's great for the owners and obviously Mr Charlton has done a great job with him."

Aidan O'Brien's English and Irish 2,000 Guineas winner went into the race as an 8-11 favourite but after taking close order early on, Churchill was unable to stay with the leaders on the closing straight.

Churchill four lengths behind winner

Ryan Moore appeared to go easy on O'Brien's horse in the closing stages when his chance had gone as he finished four lengths behind the winner.

Decorated Knight had been beaten three times since his Tattersalls win but bounced back in style in the mile-and-a-quarter showpiece.

Dettori's Eminent set the early pace and was still in the lead approaching the final furlong before giving way.

"Andrea said he knew he was going to win turning in. I couldn't believe it," said Charlton, whose charge also won at Group One level at Meydan earlier in the year.

"He's been a bit unlucky in his last couple of races. He hated the ground at York, got bashed about at Sandown in the Eclipse and ran a great race at Royal Ascot.

"I was half-thinking that this might be his last race. I guess we will now look at the Champion Stakes at Ascot."

The Irish Champions weekend action switches to the Curragh on Sunday, where the Irish St Leger is the feature race.

Last year's winner, Wicklow Brave, will take on rivals including Order Of St George, who was victorious in 2015 and second 12 months later, and Dartmouth - owned by the Queen.

Analysis

BBC horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

A beautifully timed run by jockey Andrea Atzeni on the winner to finish with a wet sail - along with Poet's Word - to swoop on long-time leader Eminent.

Decorated Knight, winning his second Group One-level race in Ireland this year deserved this: he has, as they say, 'danced every dance', lining up in some of the season's top races but has missed out, generally not by very far, until now.

The luckless horse of the race was the favourite Churchill, hemmed in on the inside, but the manner in which the principals finished indicates they might have dominated anyway.

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