Aidan O’Brien starts 2023 campaign with trio of weekend runners in Qatar

Nicky Henderson hoping to get racecourse gallop into Champion Hurdle favourite Constitution Hill

Aidan O’Brien is set to saddle his first runners of 2023 when taking on a fresh international challenge in Qatar.

Ireland’s champion trainer has sent three horses to Doha to take part in the $10 million Amir Sword Festival that starts on Thursday.

The Irish trio of Broome, Stone Age and Order Of Australia will be in action on Saturday’s card at the Al Rayyan racecourse.

The mile-and-a-half Amir Sword contest will have Broome and Stone Age among an international challenge for a contest worth $2.5 million.


Both horses last ran in the Hong Kong Vase last December when finishing out of the frame.

Order Of Australia, the former Breeders Cup Mile winner, also ran in Hong Kong when beating only one home in the international event’s 10-furlong race and is due to contest a mile contest this weekend.

Real Appeal

Another Irish interest could come from the Ado McGuinness hope Real Appeal in a race the Co Dublin trainer won two years ago with Bowerman.

In other news, the raging hot Champion Hurdle favourite Constitution Hill is likely to have a racecourse gallop en-route to Cheltenham.

His trainer Nicky Henderson said on Monday: “We usually go to Kempton. I would be thinking of Newbury, but the ground is too quick there at the moment anyway, so unless the weather changes dramatically, we’ll have to see if we can go to Kempton as I would like Constitution Hill to have a gallop.”

The top cross-channel trainer said he views the unbeaten star as an exceptional talent.

“He’s been around the track and broken records. He’s done most things and hasn’t done anything wrong, but there’s plenty that can go wrong and I think that’s the biggest issue. We all know between now and four weeks’ time, most days there’ll be a story that somebody’s out [of the Festival]. You’ve just got to keep your fingers crossed and pray you’re going to get a clean run,” he said.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column