O'Brien hoping Magical can leave Champion rivals spellbound
Classy filly Magical, Headman and the supplemented Elarqam are among 11 horses confirmed for Saturday's Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
Aidan O'Brien has saddled a record seven previous winners of the 10-furlong showpiece, and Magical appears his chief contender for this year's renewal after the Ballydoyle handler withdrew Japan, which now looks set to head straight to the Prix de l'Arc.
Magical has filled the runner-up berth on her last three outings - chasing home Crystal Ocean in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot before finding old foe Enable too strong in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and the Yorkshire Oaks.
The trainer's son, Donnacha O'Brien, has not ridden Magical competitively in more than two years, but could be on board this weekend should Ryan Moore stay in Britain to ride in the St Leger at Doncaster.
"She's a very tough, consistent mare and she gives her best running every time," said O'Brien Jnr. "Her form is right up there with the best in the world, bar Enable."
Southern France has been supplemented for the Comer Group Irish St Leger at the Curragh. The four-year-old is set to have his last race in the care of O'Brien on Sunday, after being sold by Coolmore to Australian connections with the aim of going for the Melbourne Cup.
Third in last year's St Leger at Doncaster, Southern France won the Irish St Leger Trial last month. O'Brien also has the last two winners of Britain's oldest classic, Kew Gardens and Capri, plus Cypress Creek and Western Australia among a list of 18 horses remaining at the confirmation stage as he seeks to win this race for a sixth time.
Joseph O'Brien has four possibles - 2018 Irish Derby hero Latrobe, Master Of Reality, Twilight Payment and Buckhurst.
Last year's Melbourne Cup victor Cross Counter and Ispolini represent Charlie Appleby, while Sylvester Kirk's Salouen and Wells Farhh Go, from Tim Easterby's stable, are other hopefuls from across the Irish Sea.
Appleby's unbeaten youngster Pinatubo heads 15 entered for the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes.
Aidan O'Brien has 10 possibles - including Coventry Stakes scorer Arizona and Armory, successful in last month's Group Two Futurity Stakes over this course and distance.