Australia heads Irish Champion dozen
Australia will face a maximum of eleven rivals on his return to action in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday. Aidan O’Brien’s superstar is the stand-out name among a host of Group 1 winners that remain in the feature race on day one of the inaugural Irish Champions Weekend.
The double Derby winner will be looking to record his fourth victory in a row having completed a treble in the Juddmonte International at York last month and will have the added bonus of receiving 7lbs from his older rivals in the 1m 2f contest. O’Brien, who is a seven time winner of the prestigious race, could also call upon recent Secretariat Stakes winner Adelaide who is among five Ballydoyle representatives. Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Magician is another possibility, as are Group 3 winner Hall Of Mirrors and Irish Derby runner-up Kingfisher.
Two time winner Jim Bolger has 2013 Irish Derby winner and last year’s 3rd Trading Leather in the mix, along with the 5yo Parish Hall. Dermot Weld, who has amazingly failed to record victory in the Leopardstown showpiece, has only one representative in the form of the lightly raced 3yo Alkasser.
British raiders have taken the last two renewals with Snow Fairy and The Fugue and there is another strong team crossing the Irish Sea this year with last year’s runner-up Al Kazeem the stand-out name. Coral-Eclipse winner Mukhadram will look to bounce back from a poor performance in the Juddmonte, whilst the much improved Noble Mission will represent Lady Cecil whose husband Henry took the contest in 1988 with Indian Skimmer. Kevin Ryan’s French Derby winner The Grey Gatsby completes the field and will be looking for revenge on Australia who was just 2 lengths ahead in the Juddmonte.
By Kevin Walsh
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