Moore could be Doncaster-bound to partner Dragonet in Leger

Final British Classic clashes timing-wise with Irish Champion Stakes

  • Wednesday 04 September
  • News
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Aidan O’Brien has suggested Ryan Moore could stay in Britain to partner Sir Dragonet in the William Hill St Leger at Doncaster on Saturday week, on what will be a busy afternoon on both sides of the Irish Sea for the Ballydoyle team.

O’Brien claimed his sixth victory in the world’s oldest Classic when Moore steered Kew Gardens home in front 12 months ago – adding to his previous triumphs with Milan (2001), Brian Boru (2003), Scorpion (2005), Leading Light (2013) and Capri (2017).

The post-race celebrations on Town Moor did not last long, however, as both O’Brien and Moore hot-footed it to Leopardstown for the opening day of Irish Champions Weekend, with Saxon Warrior narrowly beaten by Roaring Lion in an epic finish to the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes just a few hours later.

However, Moore will be unable to do the double this year after it was announced race times for Leopardstown would be brought forward to avoid a direct clash with the All-Ireland senior football final replay on the same day, as well as helping Japanese television coverage of Champion Stakes runner Deirdre.

The changes mean the Irish Champion is now due off at 4.15pm – just 40 minutes after the big race at Doncaster.

Speaking at a media event at his Tipperary base on Wednesday morning, O’Brien said: “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.

“I don’t know where Ryan will go. It wouldn’t surprise me if he would like to go to the St Leger. I will leave it to him to decide what he rides, but I’d imagine it might be him (Sir Dragonet).

“We’ve not discussed it as they have to get there healthy and that is why we don’t decide until a couple of days before.

“We have a great team of riders, but there are great riders in both countries and that weekend there will be good rides for everyone because there will be a big divide.”

He added: “Different times are grand, but wouldn’t you prefer to see them on different days? We all want to be at the St Leger and the Irish Champion Stakes – I think fans want to be at both.

“In this day and age we should be able to do something and come to a compromise – (maybe) one shift one day one year and the other shift another day the next year.”

Sir Dragonet is one of two leading St Leger contenders for O’Brien along with Il Paradiso.

Sir Dragonet finished a close-up fifth when favourite for the Investec Derby at Epsom in June, but was beaten at odds-on on his return from a midsummer break in the Royal Whip Stakes at the Curragh last month.

O’Brien said: “Sir Dragonet had a break and the plan was then to go to the Curragh (for the Royal Whip) and we thought we would have a look at the Arc after that, (but) things are changing all the time.

“The St Leger is an important race and a very prestigious race and we felt there was a good chance he could get the trip.

“He is a horse that has plenty of class. We have been very happy with him since the Curragh, so it will be exciting to see how he goes.”

Il Paradiso, on the other hand, is set to line up off the back of a career-best performance when third behind star older stayer Stradivarius in the Lonsdale Cup at York.

O’Brien added: “Il Paradiso is now very highly rated. He stays very well and that’s why we ran him at York – we thought it was worth him taking his chance and he had a low weight.

“He ran a very respectable race – it was a good run for a three-year-old.

“It will be interesting to see him run, too.”

Moore could be Doncaster-bound to partner Dragonet in Leger
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