Magical is set to lead Aidan O’Brien’s bid for an eighth victory in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown – with star stablemate Japan likely to wait for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Having seen off the admirable Crystal Ocean in an pulsating renewal of the Juddmonte International at York last month, Japan is currently priced up as the 9-4 favourite for the feature event in Ireland on Saturday week.
However, speaking at a press event at his yard on Wednesday morning, O’Brien indicated he could head straight to Paris in early October and Magical could instead line up as his chief hope at the Dublin circuit on the opening day of Irish Champions Weekend.
The latter completed a hat-trick for the season in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May, since when she has chased home Crystal Ocean in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and her old foe Enable in the Coral-Eclipse and the Yorkshire Oaks.
O’Brien said: “The plan for Magical was always to go to York, then go to the Irish Champion and if all goes well then go to the Arc. We have been very happy with her since and she came out the race very well.
“We knew we weren’t going to run her against Japan (in the Juddmonte International), so we knew we were going to have to supplement her for the Yorkshire Oaks, and the next thing John (Gosden) is going there with Enable.
“It is not definite that Japan won’t go to the Irish Champion, but it is possible he will go straight to the Arc. I would be leaning towards doing that a little a bit, but we won’t rule out the Irish Champion.
“He is only a three-year-old and we don’t want to over-tax him. He is progressing and we want to give him a chance to keep progressing.”
Whether Japan takes his chance or not, Magical is unlikely to be O’Brien’s only hope in the Irish Champion, with Qipco 2000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia and Investec Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck also in the mix.
Magna Grecia has not been seen since finishing fifth when chasing the Guineas double at the Curragh in late May, while Anthony Van Dyck could drop back in trip after finishing down the field in the King George at Ascot – although O’Brien is also contemplating whether to wait for the Breeders’ Cup.
He said: “Magna Grecia is getting ready to go to the Irish Champion and we are very happy with him.
“The plan was to go to York, then the Irish Champion and go back to a mile for the QEII at Ascot, but he wasn’t ready for York and might be ready for the Irish Champion. We are happy with him and he has done well.
“Anthony Van Dyck is in good order. He could run in the Irish Champion, but he could go to the Breeders’ Cup Turf. That is what we’ve had in our heads for a little while for him – a mile and a half on fast ground.
“His last run was a non-event as they probably went a bit quick and the ground was a bit soft.
“Hopefully he will stay in training (next year).”
O’Brien also confirmed his shock Irish Derby hero Sovereign will not run again this year, but hopes to see him return in 2020.
Irish Derby sixth Broome, meanwhile, is being prepared for the Arc.