Ballydoyle battalions on march for Irish Champions Weekend

Tuesday, Sep 10 2019

Aidan O’Brien is relishing the prospect of unleashing several of his equine superstars on Longines Irish Champions Weekend.

The master of Ballydoyle will send a battalion of horses both to Leopardstown on Saturday and then the Curragh the following afternoon.

Star filly Magical looks set to head the O’Brien team in Saturday’s Qipco Irish Champion Stakes – a race the trainer has won on a record seven occasions, with Giant’s Causeway (2000), High Chaparral (2003) and back-to-back victor Dylan Thomas (2006, 2007) among those on the roll of honour.

O’Brien said: “We’ve been very happy with Magical since she ran at York (second to Enable in Yorkshire Oaks).

“We’ll know closer to the weekend, but plenty could run at Leopardstown.”

He has five further contenders still in the Champion Stakes, following Tuesday’s confirmation stage, and 2000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia is under strong consideration to take his chance up in trip.

“Magna Grecia could run in the Champion Stakes,” added O’Brien.

“His plan after the Irish Guineas had been the Juddmonte International at York, which he didn’t run in, the Irish Champion Stakes and then back to the mile later in the season at Ascot.”

The feature event at the Curragh is the Comer Group International Irish St. Leger, which O’Brien won for a fifth time 12 months ago with Flag Of Honour. The trainer’s other previous successes came with Yeats (2007), Septimus (2008) and dual winner Order Of St George (2015 and 2017).

His potential challenge in the Irish Classic this year includes Southern France, who has been supplemented for what is set to be his final start for the trainer before moving to Australia in preparation for a tilt at the Melbourne Cup.

Other key runners across the weekend for the team include dual Guineas heroine Hermosa in Leopardstown’s Matron Stakes and Armory in the National Stakes at the Curragh.

“Hermosa came out of her last run in Goodwood in good form,” said the trainer.

“It’s an unbelievable two days’ racing – we’re very lucky to have it, and we want to run as many as we can.

“It’s the perfect situation for any festival racing anywhere in the world. All the horses are kind of decided at their distances and all settled down into their own groups.

“There are unbelievable championship races there – Group Ones, Group Twos and Group Threes.

“I think it’s unbelievable for us to have facilities like the Curragh and Leopardstown – and to be able to showcase them at the same time is incredible.”



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