Andrew Lloyd Webber's 4-year-old filly The Fugue shook off favorite Al Kazeem in the straight and comfortably won the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) Sept. 7 at Leopardstown.
William Buick brought his mount down the center of the course to challenge pacesetter Trading Leather as 9-10 favorite Al Kazeem made a determined bid for a fourth group I win of the season, but could not keep pace. The Fugue grabbed the lead in the final furlong and cruised away from Al Kazeem for a 1 1/4-length victory.
Trading Leather, winner of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Ire-I), held on to finish third, two lengths back in the six-horse field.
The Fugue was timed in 2:05.22 for the 1 1/4-mile contest, turning the tables on Al Kazeem, the 5-year-old Dubawi runner who bested her in the Prince of Wales's Stakes (Eng-I) in June at Royal Ascot and in the Coral Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) in July at Sandown. She was the 4-1 second favorite in the Irish Champion Stakes along with Aidan O'Brien's Kingsbarns, who dropped to the back of the field halfway through and was eventually eased.
O'Brien scratched recent Juddmonte International (Eng-I) victor Declaration of War because rain had softened the course.
For the second time in two weeks, The Fugue earned a starting berth in a Breeders' Cup race. The Irish Champion Stakes is a "Win and You're In" challenge race for Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) and guarantees The Fugue a start in the championship event to be run Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.
She previously qualified for a return bid in the Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT), a race in which she finished third last year as the 8-5 favorite after being caught in traffic for much of the way, with her victory in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Eng-I) Aug. 22 at York.
"She is a very fine filly and we are really thrilled with her," trainer John Gosden told the Racing Post. "She won the Yorkshire Oaks in great style last time and we showed it wasn't a fluke against the colts.
"I knew it was in her to do it, so I didn't come here thinking she was inferior. We will take it one step at a time now."
English-bred The Fugue is out of stakes-placed Twyla Tharp, by Sadler's Wells. Twyla Tharp is a half sister to English group I winners Compton Admiral and Summoner. The Fugue is from the eighth crop of Juddmonte Farms stallion Dansili, a 17-year-old son of Danehill, who stands at Banstead Manor Stud in Newmarket.
The Fugue was the second group I winner of the day for Dansili, joining Foreteller, who won the Makybe Diva Stakes (Aus-I) at Flemington in Australia. His son Strategic Prince is the sire of La Collina, who won the Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Matron Stakes (Ire-I), also Sept. 7 at Leopardstown.