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Richard Fahey expecting Classic winners to offer tough QEII test to Ribchester


Richard Fahey believes Minding may prove the main bar to success for Ribchester in the Qipco Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

The Iffraaj colt graduated to Group One success in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville in August, with the reopposing 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold just over three lengths back in eighth.

Ribchester, winner of the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, had previously finished narrowly behind Galileo Gold when the pair filled second and third in the Sussex Stakes while Fahey's runner was also third behind his old rival in the Guineas.

While Ribchester has successfully reversed that form, Fahey has not written off the claims of Galileo Gold, although he thinks 1000 Guineas and Oaks winner Minding will provide also stiff opposition.

Fahey said: "I'm a big fan of Minding, so we'll see. I'm happy with my lad, the beauty of him is he goes on any ground.

"I'll have to speak to John (Ferguson) about the Breeders' Cup but we'll see how he gets on at Ascot, I think he's got an automatic entry. I'm led to believe he stays in training."

Aidan O'Brien's Minding was last seen when posting a fine third in the Irish Champion Stakes behind Almanzor and Found and she will be dropping back to a mile for the first time since a surprise reverse in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

"Minding had the choice of three races (QEII, Champion Stakes and Fillies & Mares), it all came down to how they all worked and then the lads (Coolmore partners) decided which races they ran in," said O'Brien.

"She's been an unbelievable filly this year."

Kevin Prendergast's Awtaad beat Galileo Gold in the Irish Guineas but was behind him at both Ascot and Goodwood before bouncing back at Leopardstown.

"He's a very special horse to me and the boss, he's been our flagship horse all season," said his jockey Chris Hayes.

"In our eyes he's never done anything wrong. He was a little bit below par at Goodwood, but he came back to win at Leopardstown in great fashion.

"He''s been trained with this race in mind and nothing has gone wrong.

"He was very much on a retrieval mission at Leopardstown and it was nice to prove any doubters wrong that he still had the engine.

"It's the race of the season at this distance. He's going to have to be at the top of his form but he owes us nothing."

Jet Setting's team are praying for rain, but she is unlikely to get ground as soft as it was when she beat Minding in the Irish Guineas.

Nevertheless, she was still supplemented earlier in the week.

Her trainer Adrian Keatley said: "It (supplementing her) has worked a couple of times, so hopefully we'll get reward.

"She was exceptionally good at Tipperary and hopefully the rain comes and we can get back in the winner's enclosure. She's got a great skin on her and is leaping around the place at home."