Madhmoon 'in a good place' ahead of Champion Stakes tilt
Chris Hayes is confident that the best is yet to come from Madhmoon as Kevin Prendergast's stable star bids for his first Group One success in tomorrow's QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
Narrowly touched off by Aidan O'Brien's Anthony Van Dyck - which hopes to bounce back after his King George flop - in the English Derby, Hayes believes Madhmoon (6/1) is coming to the boil again.
Having scored in a Group Three at the Foxrock track last month, Hayes expects the son of Dawn Approach to put his best foot forward and banish a lacklustre display in the Irish Derby.
"We got a good blow into him the last day and I thought he was impressive. He hasn't missed a beat since, he's in a good place. He probably had a harder race than we gave him credit for in the English Derby," Hayes said.
"I'd draw a line through it (his Irish Derby performance) as he had legitimate excuses. He was impressive the last day and I think it's done his confidence the power of good. He's in a good place mentally and physically."
O'Brien's brilliant mare Magical (15/8 favourite) heads the eight runners with Mark Johnston supplementing Elarqam, while Roger Charlton's rapidly improving Headman and Japanese challenger Deirdre, which won the Nassau Stakes, are among the other leading players.
With Ryan Moore in Leopardstown, O'Brien sends son Donnacha to Doncaster tomorrow where he picks up the plum ride on Sir Dragonet (3/1) in the English St Leger at Doncaster and the 21-year-old is confident of the prospects of upsetting Roger Varian's hot-favourite Logician (evens).
"I ride him in all his work, he's absolutely flying at home and gives you a very good feel. It's always an unknown when they step up in trip, but he looks to have every chance of staying it," the younger O'Brien said.
"It's an unknown for plenty in the race. Logician is a nice horse, but he must improve to run to my level of form, being honest, and I think my lad is probably the one to beat."
Meanwhile, O'Brien Snr was just denied at Doncaster yesterday when John Gosden's Enbihaar (6/5 favourite) gave 13lb and a narrow beating to Delphinia (15/2) in a pulsating finish to the Group Two Park Hill Stakes.
Elsewhere, the future of Michael Stoute's Crystal Ocean is said to be in doubt after the brilliant five-year-old suffered a leg injury during routine exercise yesterday morning.