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O'Brien leads strong Irish charge on Royal finale

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Trainer Aidan O’Brien. Photo: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile

Trainer Aidan O’Brien. Photo: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile

Trainer Aidan O’Brien. Photo: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile

Aidan O'Brien has been flying the lone tricolour at Ascot this week but the cavalry has arrived on the final day of the Royal meeting with a host of other Irish trainers taking their shot at the home team.

O'Brien is heavy-handed as normal today as he bids to add to his four Royal winners but the sight of Tipperary trainer Denis Hogan with his rags-to-riches sprinter Sceptical adds another layer of intrigue in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (3.35).

Sceptical, a £2,800 Godolphin cast-off, has been a revelation since making his debut in October and looked better than ever last week when scoring with ease on his turf bow in a Listed event at Naas.

Frankie Dettori's mount will take some stopping if showing up in similar form and the James McAuley-owned four-year-old is taken to continue his meteoric rise and land the Group One prize on a career-defining day for Hogan.

Joseph O'Brien's Speak In Colours also tackles the 6f contest but is likely to be outpaced while Dettori also gets the nod to partner Jessica Harrington's Alpine Star in the Group One Coronation Stakes (2.25).

Harrington has been out of luck in the fillies' classics so far this season but Alpine Star should be right in the mix in an ultra-competitive affair where O'Brien also saddles Irish 1,000 Guineas third So Wonderful and recent Group Three scorer Love Locket.

O'Brien can also spoil the Pinatubo party in the St James's Palace Stakes (3.0). The Ballydoyle maestro sends English 2,000 Guineas second Wichita in pursuit of Charlie Appleby's Pinatubo once again and he can confirm Newmarket form to come home in front and land O'Brien the Group One for a ninth time. The champion trainer has won four of the last nine runnings of the Group Two Coventry Stakes (1.50) and Admiral Nelson - winner of a Curragh maiden eight days ago - will take some stopping under Ryan Moore.

O'Brien's comfortable Naas maiden winner More Beautiful also vies for favouritism in the Group Two Queen Mary Stakes (1.15) where Harrington's Curragh maiden winner Dickiedooda, as well as Hogan's Grammata, also go for glory.

At Ascot yesterday, the Ballydoyle supremo was on the mark with Santiago (10/3) which claimed a seventh victory in the Queen's Vase for the trainer.

Santiago - not seen since landing a Listowel maiden in September - was covered up by Ryan Moore, who produced the son of Authorized to lead at the furlong pole and the pair put the race to bed with relative ease.

Berkshire Royal tried to close the gap inside the final furlong, but Santiago never looked in any real danger and passed the post two-and-three-quarter lengths to the good.

Clive Cox's Golden Horde was an emphatic winner for Adam Kirby in the featured Commonwealth Cup on his seasonal return with a length-and-a-half win from American filly Kimari.

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