Wednesday 21 November 2018

'Magna' leads O'Brien's Doncaster raid

Trainer Aidan O’Brien. Photo: INPHO
Trainer Aidan O’Brien. Photo: INPHO
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Magna Grecia is all the rage for Saturday's Futurity Trophy as Aidan O'Brien bids for a remarkable ninth success in the Doncaster Group One.

Having been victorious eight times when the race was known as the Racing Post Trophy - including with subsequent Classic winner Saxon Warrior 12 months ago - the Ballydoyle maestro is likely to have at least a trio of runners in the lucrative two-year-old contest.

Magna Grecia (as low as 6/4 from 5/2) is already well touted for next year's English 2,000 Guineas (16/1) having improved significantly from his Naas maiden win in September to go down by a neck in a Newmarket Group Three earlier this month.

Andre Fabre's exciting French juvenile Persian King got the better of him that day but his third racecourse appearance in the space of month is expected to see further progress in a race where he is likely to be joined by stablemates Circus Maximus and Western Australia, third and fourth on that occasion at Newmarket.

O'Brien is also lining up a strong challenge to land his first Melbourne Cup on November 6 with Yucatan (6/1 favourite) following an impressive Group Two handicap victory Down Under, while last year's Irish Derby second The Cliffsofmoher is 12/1.

Rostroprovich (16/1) warms up for the race that stops a nation in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on Saturday morning where he bids to lower the colours of wonder mare Winx.

Withhold, previously Melbourne Cup ante-post favourite, will not run in the Australian showpiece, however, after Roger Charlton's five-year-old bled from both nostrils when eighth in yesterday's Geelong Cup and was ruled out for three months.

Closer to home, O'Brien is heavy-handed at Thurles' seven-race card today where Flat racing makes its return to the Tipperary track for the first time since March 2007.

His leading fancy is Constantinople, which was beaten by a pair of John Gosden runners in a Newmarket maiden last month and should do the business in the Horse & Jockey Maiden (2.40).

Meanwhile, Ruby Walsh has identified Next Destination as one to follow over fences as the jumps season kicks into gear in the coming weeks.

Already 10/1 second favourite behind Nicky Henderson's Santini for next year's RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Walsh expects Willie Mullins' dual Grade One-winning hurdler to improve further for the switch to the larger obstacles.

"We think he could be a really smart novice chaser and you have to dream. He has the potential to be top-class and he's got a great attitude. Of all our novice chasers, he's the one I'm most looking forward to riding this season," the Kildare jockey said.

Elsewhere, Cheltenham has been granted an injunction by the English High Court to ban ticket touts from the track in a landmark judgement which will come into force tomorrow for its opening Showcase meeting and will last for the rest of the season.

Irish Independent

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