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Magical to spearhead Aidan O'Brien team at Irish Champions Weekend

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Sun 8 Sep 2019

Aidan O'Brien’s power-packed team for Longines Irish Champions Weekend will be spearheaded by Magical in the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.

One of six Group One contests at Leopardstown and the Curragh next weekend, the race shares top-billing at the Dublin track on Saturday afternoon.

Magical has been runner-up to Enable three times in the past year but will not have that magnificent mare to cope with this time. She could be joined in the Champion Stakes line-up by Anthony Van Dyck, the Derby winner, and Magic Wand.

Aidan O'Brien spoke about Irish Champions Weekend at a recent media event

O’Brien said on Sunday: “We have Magical for the Champion Stakes and she is a very good filly. Others we have in contention for the race include Anthony Van Dyck and Magic Wand.”

Dual Guineas winner Hermosa is on course for the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes when she will clash with multiple Group One winner Laurens, who will seek back-to-back wins in the race for Karl Burke.

O’Brien rarely makes excuses for his horses but believes Hermosa was unsuited by the course when running below-par in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood last time.

“We have a lot of entries in the Matron, with Hermosa ready for that race; we also have the likes of Happen, I Can Fly and Just Wonderful,” he said

“Goodwood was disappointing for Hermosa last time but that was a mess of a race and I don't think she handled the track.”

Though he expects to have few runners in the handicaps, O’Brien certainly has his eyes on Leopardstown’s KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes, a Group Two that went to the Kevin Prendergast-trained Madhmoon last year.

“We have Mogul, who won well at the Curragh, for that. We’ll wait to see what the ground is like for that race but we also have the son of Tiggy Wiggy (Year Of The Tiger) and Emperor Of The Sun.”

At the Curragh on Sunday, O’Brien will play his part in what looks an exceptionally deep renewal of the €600,000 Comer Group International Irish St Leger, a race he has won with such as Yeats, Order Of St George and last year's hero, Flag Of Honour. O'Brien numbers an Irish Derby and English St Leger winner among his team.

"It should be a great Leger and we have Capri, Southern France and Kew Gardens in the mix for that," he said.

The Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes has gone to some O'Brien-handled stars, including Hawk Wing, One Cool Cat, Mastercraftsman and Churchill. This year’s renewal looks like being a belter with Pinatubo and Siskin also on course to run.

“The Coventry Stakes winner (Arizona) and the Futurity winner (Armory) are on course for that race and it will be a very competitive renewal,” O’Brien said.

“In the Moyglare Stud Stakes, Petite Mustique is on course, and she did very well after winning her maiden to go down narrowly in the Debutante Stakes.”

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