09/06/2003 12:00AM

'Chaparral' holds off Falbrav


High Chaparral held off the late challenge of an unlucky Falbrav by a neck to win a controversial running of the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.

High Chaparral benefited from the strong gallop set first by his pacemaker, France, and then by Moon Ballad. Driving down the outside to take the lead approaching the final furlong, High Chaparral edged left and then just held off the late thrust of Falbrav, who was attempting to sneak up the inside rail.

Luca Cumani, the trainer of Falbrav, said, "He never got any run until late, and then the winner seemed to push him into the inside rail."

Darryll Holland, who rode Falbrav, agreed. "Mick [Kinane, aboard High Chaparral] drifted into me and forced me on to Moon Ballad, then he intimidated me close to home," Holland said.

But after an inquiry the stewards decided otherwise, and the result was allowed to stand. Islington, sent off at16-1, stayed on resolutely down the outside in the final quarter-mile to take third, just a head behind Falbrav. High Chaparral covered 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.30.

High Chaparral, who won last year's Breeders' Cup Turf, is trained in Ireland by Aidan O'Brien. The victory moves High Chaparral into a third-place tie in this year's World Series Racing Championship with 12 points, just six behind the leader, Sulamani. High Chaparral is expected to next run in the seventh leg of the World Series, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Oct. 5.

The winner was running for only the second time since winning last October's Breeders' Cup Turf.

"We thought that he would take two runs to get ready, so it was great to see him do that," O'Brien said. "He has plenty of speed and might have run over a mile earlier in the season had he not bruised his shoulder. The plan all year has been the Arc."

Alamshar was sent off as the 6-5 favorite - in front of Falbrav at 5-2 and the winner at 4-1 - but had to settle for fourth, beaten 1 3/4 lengths.

John Oxx, Alamshar's trainer, was disappointed with the result. "Alamshar wasn't really travelling at any time," he said. "He was leaning right and may need a right-handed course."

Somnus upsets Oasis Dream

Somnus (12-1) upset the odds-on Oasis Dream in the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock Park on Saturday, though many would credit a changing surface for producing the surprise.

The straight six-furlong contest was run in heavy rain, which had turned the course to "good" condition and then to "soft." Somnus scored in 1:13.49 against a course record of 1:09.9.

Somnus was almost last of the 10 runners with 1 1/2 furlongs to run, but jockey Ted Durcan switched him away from the rails. He produced a strong burst to catch the favorite midway through the final furlong and kept on to beat him by 1 1/4 lengths, with Airwave three-quarters of a length back in third.

All three could meet again in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye, over a straight five furlongs at Longchamp on Oct. 5.