09/04/2010 12:56PM

Cape Blanco wires Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes

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Irish Derby winner Cape Blanco added to his Group 1 r é sum é with a unchallenged and emphatic victory in Saturday’s Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

All the buzz before the race was about Rip Van Winkle, the pick of the Aidan O’Brien-trained trio, and he started at 8-11 under jockey Johnny Murtagh.

However, Cape Blanco shot out to the lead of the 10-furlong event under Seamus Heffernan and looked full of run. He was four lengths clear of Sea Lord at half-way and had that rival under pressure well before the straight. He increased his advantage in the straight and finished 5 1/2 lengths in front.

Rip Van Winkle made a move from fifth as the field turned for home. Although he plugged on to take second on the line from Twice Over, he never looked capable of catching the winner.

At 6-1, Cape Blanco headed an O’Brien 1-2-4 finish as Beethoven filled the fourth spot, just ahead of Sea Lord, while Dermot Weld’s Famous Name rounded out the field.

Speaking after the race, O’Brien was upbeat.

“Cape Blanco was a nice 2-year-old who was a Group 2 winner last season,” he said. “We’ve always thought a lot of him and thought that a mile and a quarter on nice ground was always going to be his best conditions.”

About Rip Van Winkle, O’Brien added; “Johnny said he’d run a good race, but the ground ideally could have been quicker for him. Rip’s a miler who can get 10 furlongs, while Cape Blanco’s best distances are a mile and a quarter or a mile and a half.”

“Plans are open for both, and they’re entered in everything, but Rip wouldn’t mind going back to a mile”

The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, which Rip Van Winkle won last year, looks an obvious target.