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Aidan O’Brien runs through his Irish Champions Weekend team as Moore choses Leopardstown over St Leger

Ryan Moore speaks to Aidan O'Brien at the Curragh last year.

Ireland’s top trainer, Aidan O’Brien spoke to the press this week and outlined his talented squad of flat racers set to take part in the biggest races at Leopardstown and the Curragh this weekend.

Irish Champions Weekend has quickly grown into the biggest meeting on Ireland’s flat racing calendar. Leopardstown’s card on Saturday is highlighted by the Irish Champion Stakes, while Sunday’s meeting at the Curragh features four fantastic Group Ones, with the Irish version of the St Leger headlining proceedings.

With bountiful prize pots up for grabs in almost every race over the weekend, it’s no surprise to see a wealth of Aidan O’Brien horses entered across the cards at Leopardstown and the Curragh. It’s not advisable to try and second-guess which race the master of Ballydoyle has mapped out for his superstars. Yet, O'Brien made that task a lot easier for punters on Sunday, as he outlined plans for his troops in an interview with Racing TV.

First on the agenda was Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes, where Magical will spearhead O’Brien’s charge. Juddmonte International Stakes winner, Japan will not take in Leopardstown on his way to a showdown with Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but Magical will still be accompanied by a couple of her stablemates.

“We have Magical for the Champion Stakes and she is a very good filly.” O’Brien said during Racing TV’s press event. “Others we have in contention for the race include Anthony Van Dyck and Magic Wand.”
The second Group One on Saturday’s card is the Matron Stakes, where British favourite Laurens will attempt to defend her title. The Matron will also be the scene of dual-Guineas heroine, Hermosa’s return to action and O’Brien is confident his filly can bounce back after that dismal effort in the Nassau Stakes.

O’Brien continued, “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.” 

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

Another important race taking place on Saturday is the Future Champions Stakes, won last year by Derby runner-up, Madhmoon, and O’Brien looks set to throw a handful of his top two-year-olds into battle.

“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.”

Onto Sunday now and Aidan O’Brien will three of his most talented stayers into the Irish St Leger, with last year’s British Leger winner, Kew Gardens the headline act.

"It should be a great Leger,” O’Brien said, “we have Capri, Southern France and Kew Gardens in the mix for that,"
Charlie Appleby’s Pinatubo will be a tough nut to crack in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, but O’Brien won’t take defeat lying down, choosing to throw two of his recent stakes winners in with Godolphin’s ante-post Guineas favourite.

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

Jessica Harrington may have a stranglehold on the betting for the Moyglare Stud Stakes, but O’Brien looks likely to throw Love and Precious Moments into the mix. Fairyland and So Perfect hold entry in the opening Group One on Sunday, the Flying Five Stakes. However, after both were well beaten in the Sprint Cup last weekend, it’s unlikely either will take up their entry.

O’Brien was all smiles with the media as he outlined his plans for Irish Champions Weekend. However, the previous week, Ireland’s champion trainer cut an aggrieved figure as he bemoaned Saturday’s scheduling. Due to the All-Ireland Senior Football Final Replay taking place on Saturday evening, Leopardstown organisers decided to start their card a few hours earlier than they had originally planned, meaning they will run at the same time as Doncaster’s own St Leger day.

O’Brien told the press last Wednesday, "The jockeys are going to be a problem. We have plenty of jockeys here, but they are not going to be able to do the two.”

"We always did the two, but we won't be able to do two this time. This is the first time we can't do the two and it doesn't do any favours to anyone.”
Ryan Moore, Aidan O’Brien’s go-to man, had a decision to make as to where he would ride on Saturday. O’Brien stated last week that he wouldn’t be surprised if Moore wanted to remain in England to ride Sir Dragonet in the St Leger. Yet, news broke this morning that Ballydoyle’s retained jockey would make the journey over to Ireland instead, leaving Donnacha O’Brien free to ride O’Brien’s top talent in the St Leger.

"The plan is that Ryan will be riding at Leopardstown and Donnacha will be going to Doncaster.” O’Brien told the Racing Post today.

"Il Paradiso and Norway are likely to join Sir Dragonet in the St Leger and we'll decide in the morning if any of our other three entries for the race will run."

"We won't be finalising plans for the Leopardstown Group 1s until declaration time on Thursday. We'll probably have a few runners in both races and it's quite possible that Anthony Van Dyck will run in the Champion Stakes rather than in the Prix Niel at Longchamp on Sunday."

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Aidan O’Brien runs through his Irish Champions Weekend team as Moore choses Leopardstown over St Leger

Ireland’s top trainer, Aidan O’Brien spoke to the press this week and outlined his talented squad of flat racers set to take part in the biggest races at Leopardstown and the Curragh this weekend on Saturday 14th September.

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