Aidan O’Brien’s says the trio of 2019 winner Magical, Japan and Derby winner Serpentine are likely to make up his challenge for the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
Serpentine and Japan were among the O’Brien-trained horses which were pulled out of the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe on the eve of the race when the stable were caught up in a contaminated feed issue.
O’Brien said: ‘We had to think hard about it. For a long time they were being prepared for the Arc weekend and when you have to carry on for another two weeks it is not always ideal. You have to try to keep the momentum going and that can be tricky but they seem to be in good form.
Aidan O’Brien-trained Derby winner Serpentine has been supplemented for the Arc on Sunday
‘We were really looking forward to the Arc with Serpentine and his prep race was very good and we felt he had moved up plenty from it.
‘The Champion Stakes has been Magical’s target since she won the Irish Champion Stakes. She has been a great filly and usually starts to progress in the Autumn. She ran in this race and loved it.
‘Ryan (Moore )always rides the No 1 horses and I would imagine that would be Magical.’
Grand Prix de Paris winner Mogul is also entered in the Champion Stakes but O’Brien said he is likely to be saved for a run in next month’s Breeders’ Cup Turf in the US.
That race had been an expected target of O’Brien’s 1,000 Guineas and Oaks winner Love but O’Brien said she was unlikely to run again this season while staying in training in 2021.
O’Brien has trained eight winners on British Champions day and plans to run Circus Maximus in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. He has won both his runs at Ascot in last season’s St James’s Palace Stakes and the Queen Anne Stakes in July.
Circus Maximusm, who could be joined in the race by stablemate Royal Dornoch, must make up the five and three-quarter lengths he was beaten by Saturday’s favourite Palace Pier in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville in August but O’Brien believes he has reason to believe that could happen.
O’Brien said: ‘Circus Maximus is a tough hardened horse who loves to get into a battle. The Jacques Le Marois was a pretty strongly run race and we went forward while Palace Pier took his time. The ground was very deep as well, and Deauville is a flat track whereas Ascot is stiffer. Our horse has run some big races there so we are looking forward to it.’
O’Brien plans to run Broome, Dawn Patrol and Sovereign in the Long Distance Cup while Lope Y Fernandez is a possible for the Champion Sprint but he could be saved for a tilt at the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
O’Brien’s Royal Ascot two-year-old winner Battleground, who has not run since winning the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, is being targeted at next month’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.