Strong O’Brien team for ICW
Aidan O'Brien could saddle as many as four runners in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday week.
Aidan O'Brien has a strong team for Irish Champions Weekend
The Ballydoyle maestro has had a record seven previous winners of the 10-furlong Group One, but has not struck gold since So You Think claimed top honours in 2011, with the last four renewals going to British raiders.
Brilliant filly Minding has the option of running in the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes on the same afternoon, but connections are seriously considering letting her take on the boys in the Irish Champion.
Breeders' Cup Turf heroine Found and King George winner Highland Reel are also strong contenders, while Epsom Derby runner-up US Army Ranger will either join his stable companions or contest the KPMG Enterprise Stakes.
O'Brien said: "It looks, without being definite, like we could run Found, Minding and Highland Reel (in the Irish Champion Stakes). If we have a fourth, it'd be US Army Ranger, but the lads will decide that next week. Three of those are strong possibles.
"US Army Ranger would run in the other race – just to get another run into him – if he does not go for the Champion. As for the other three, there's a very strong possibility it's going to happen.
"It will be a marvellous race on a marvellous weekend; it changes the face of Irish racing to have this weekend. This is the autumn that we didn't have in Ireland."
Discussing some of his other plans for Irish Champions Weekend, the trainer told the Irish Independent: "In the Matron, we are thinking Somehow and Alice Springs.
"Churchill is going to the National Stakes and in the Moyglare we are looking at the Debutante Stakes first and second, Rhododendron and Hydrangea, as well as Promise To Be True, who won at Leopardstown last time, and obviously Order Of St George in the (Irish) Leger."
O'Brien also revealed next year's Derby favourite Douglas Macarthur is likely to line up in Leopardstown's John Deere Juvenile Turf Stakes, while his star two-year-old Caravaggio appears increasingly likely to be given the rest of the year off.
The 2000 Guineas favourite suffered a minor setback after his emphatic win in the Phoenix Stakes and he is unlikely to take up his entry in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on September 24.
O'Brien said: "He's good, but we'll probably decide next week whether he will make it back or not this year.
"There's a good chance he is done for the year. He is back cantering."