Fantastic Light ends Galileo’s unbeaten run in the Irish Champion Stakes

In the latest head-to-head instalment Fantastic Light inched out the unbeaten Galileo in the Irish Champion Stakes on Saturday.

This was no ordinary race. The image of Fantastic Light and Galileo slugging it out up the Leopardstown straight will stay in the mind for a lifetime as a never-to-be-forgotten confrontation.

There wasn’t a loser, evenif Galileo’s six-race winning sequence was ended in the most dramatic and spine-tingling fashion. The Coolmore champion’s part in Galileo v Fantastic Light II was courageous, and he earned a hero’s welcome from the record-breaking crowd of Leopardstown faithful.

Under a plan formulated by Sheikh Maktoum and his brother Sheikh Mohammed on Friday night, Frankie Dettori let Fantastic Light run his own race and settled him in third place ahead of Galileo.

Dettori slipped Fantastic Light up theinside of Give The Slip as they swung into the straight, while Mick Kinane had to go around the weakening Godolphin pacemaker on the outer.

But there were no excuses and, as Fantastic Light rolled off the rails towards Galileo in their desperate lunge to the line, Dettori hit his mount in front and behind the saddle to prevent contact with his great rival. He received a severe caution from the stewards for his troubles.

When Sheikh Mohammed was asked what the pre-race plan had been, the Crown Prince of Dubai replied with a twinkle in his eye: “To search the sky for a star and today we found it in Fantastic Light.”

Speaking from America on Sunday, Simon Crisford, Godolphin’s racing manager said: “Fantastic Light will go straight to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. We did it with Swain after he won the Irish Champion Stakes and we reckon it is a good plan for Fantastic Light who has trained very well on sand in Dubai.

“He has never given us any reason to doubt he will handle the dirt in Belmont. Hopefully Galileo will be there, as well as the best dirt horses in the world.”

Standby for Galileo verses Fantastic Light III.

  • Read the full report on the Fantastic Light verses Galileo rematch in this Thursday’s (13 September) Horse & Hound or click here to subscribe online at a reduced rate.