Tuesday 23 January 2018

O'Brien banks on Magician to pull it out of the hat

Thomas Kelly

Magician is set to spearhead Aidan O'Brien's bid for a seventh St James's Palace Stakes success at Royal Ascot after overcoming a late scare.

Bruising that the Irish 2,000 Guineas hero reportedly suffered last Thursday has disappeared and he is poised to take his chance in what has the makings of a vintage renewal of the Group One over a mile.

Jockey Joseph O'Brien is looking forward to the contest and the chance to take on Newmarket 2,000 Guineas victor Dawn Approach, which ruined his chance in the English Derby when refusing to settle for much of the mile-and-a-half journey.

"He'll be checked over before he gets in the box, but at the moment I think he's good and ready to take his chance, hopefully," said O'Brien Jnr.

Victory would see Magician stake his claim to be champion three-year-old in Europe over a mile and his trainer said yesterday: "He looks an incredibly exciting horse.

"The lads (Coolmore) made that decision (to run in the Irish Guineas) – I wouldn't have been brave enough to bring him back in trip (after the Dee Stakes over a mile and a quarter). It was a great decision on their part."

Ryan Moore gets the leg up on Mars, which drops back in trip after finishing sixth behind stablemate Ruler Of The World at Epsom.

"He's a high-class horse with loads of ability and hopefully he can put it all together," said O'Brien Snr.

Big outsider George Vancouver completes the O'Brien trio in a nine-runner line-up.

Jim Bolger, meanwhile, is quietly confident about Dawn Approach's chances, insisting: "I have no reason to think that he is any less of a horse now than when he won the 2,000 Guineas. He's in great form and I have been very happy with his work since Epsom."

Irish Independent

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