Last year’s winner, Magical, will be joined by stable allies Japan and Serpentine, who are considering a three – way attack on the Quipco champion Stokes at the Icelandic O’Brien Ascot.
Quipco has lined up eight previous winners in Balido on British Champions Day, preparing to send another top team across the Irish Sea this weekend to mark the tenth anniversary of the Showpeace meeting.
Although Magical has long been penciling for a return to Ascot, several big names that may not be related to Berkshire are now mixed, prompting O’Brien to withdraw all of his runners due to a written problem surrounding contaminated feed. Arch Day in Paris.
O’Brien agrees that the delay change of the Big-Race target is not appropriate, but that the loss of the Paris Longchamp seems to be an advantage for Ascot.
“We had to think a lot about what we did with the horses that were going to France, because Ark had been preparing for the weekend for a long time, and it’s not always appropriate when you go two weeks ahead,” said Brian.
“The momentum continues to be strategic. We’ve been waiting for the weekend, the horses have been training well for a long time, but it’s so, we have accepted the way it was intended and moved on.
“Next year will be another year. We’ve changed the route with them and we’ll see what happens, but they seem to be in good shape.”
Japan and Derby winner Serpentine were once considered the top rivals of the Prix DLRC de Triomphe, but are now likely to line up with Magical, running out of alternative options.
However, the Mughals, another member of the O’Brien champion Stakes, will be lost.
O’Brien said: “Japan is a strong possibility, aiming for magic from the leopard. The Mughals are not a determinant because the Breeders’ Cup can go straight to the turf.
“The boys had to decide what to do with the serpentine. We were waiting for the arc with him, and the preparation for it was excellent – we felt that he had come a long way from his prep run and worked very well physically.
“He has to run somewhere soon, or we have to pull him out completely. After Saturday, his options are the Breeders’ Cup, the Japan Cup and the Hong Kong tournament.
“We’re very happy to be home with him now. It would be fun if he ran on Saturday.”
The magical look was set for retirement after winning gold 12 months ago, but the change of mind to keep her in training at the age of five was richly rewarding.
Following their successive Group 1 win in Curaao, the ultra-stable Galileo Meyer followed Guyme in Jordamont International in York before successfully defending the title at the Irish Champion Stakes in Leopardstown.
Her top level number is seventh – she may already be in double figures if she hasn’t jumped on the many opportunities she’s recently retired.
“Enabling is a great Philly, obviously she and Magic know each other very well – they’ve had some great matches together,” O’Brien said.
“Activation is a year older than Magical, and we are happy that the boys have decided to keep Magical in training this year.
“She’s in good form and loved this race last year, so we want to run her.”
When asked about her plans for Magical beyond Saturday, O’Brien added: “I’m not sure about next year because we’re happy to have her this year.
“It’s up to the boys to decide, but I think she’s going to the Breeders’ Cup if everything goes well with her.”
The main support contest is Queen Elizabeth II, in which O’Brien’s main contender will be the acclaimed Circus Maximus.
At a meeting in Dowville this summer, the six-year-old tough guy had a good idea of John Gosden’s favorite Palace Pierre, but O’Brien hopes to return to Oscott – where he has won twice before – to help fill the circus’ maximum gap.
O’Brien said: “We always rejoice in the circus maximus. He is very tough and consistent, and seems to dance all the way.
“He’s a very competitive horse. He likes it when horses challenge him – he’s tough and tough, he loves to fight.”
The coach confirmed that Royal Dornok is a strong contender for the Circus Maximus, while Lancaster Ha House will also decide whether to join the squad.
O’Brien announced his desire to field archer Sovereign, Broom and Don Patrol in the British Champions Long Distance Cup, while Locke Fernandez could be a contender for the British Champions Sprint, losing to Prix de la Forret at the Arc Weekend.
O’Brien favors running the British Champions Phyllis & Mares stakes on Passion over Labyrinth to stress that all plans are subject to change.
He will be represented by the recently listed winner Keats in the concluded Balmoral Handicap.