Aidan O’Brien mob-handed for Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes

Most successful handler in history of renewal enters four for prestigious Group One race

The main Irish challenger for the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes  appears to be Ger Lyons’s unbeaten star Siskin. File photograph: Inpho

The main Irish challenger for the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes appears to be Ger Lyons’s unbeaten star Siskin. File photograph: Inpho

 

Aidan O’Brien is facing into a rare role as Group One outsider at Newmarket this weekend.

He is the most successful trainer in the history of the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes with six winners including the last two, US Navy Flag (2017) and Ten Sovereigns last year. But bookmakers reckon his four-strong entry for Saturday’s race are not among the market principals.

Lope Y Fernandez and Monarch Of Egypt look the pick of them but it is the French colt Earthlight that tops the betting, just ahead of the wide-margin York winner Mums Tipple.

Instead the main Irish challenger appears to be Ger Lyons’s unbeaten star Siskin who defeated Monarch Of Egypt in last month’s Phoenix Stakes.

Immediate reaction after Monday’s forfeit stage was to make the Prix Morny winner, Earthlight, a marginal 2-1 favourite over Mums Tipple.

Monarch Of Egypt is a general 8-1 fourth best in most markets.

O’Brien has won the last three renewals of Saturday’s other Group One, the Cheveley Park Stakes for fillies, including last year with Fairyland.

He has four entries this time including Blissful who won at Listed level over Irish Champions Weekend. She just got the better of Nurse Barbara whose trainer Ger Lyons has opted to supplement her into the race. Lyons won the race in 2011 with Lightening Pearl.

Three other Irish trainers have kept open the Cheveley Park option. Ken Condon has left in Celtic Beauty while Jessica Harrington’s Millisle is also among the 15 remaining possibles.

Sheila Lavery was sixth in last year’s Cheveley Park with the ill-fated Lady Kaya and could start Lil Grey this time.

However is the Morny runner up Raffle Prize who is a 2-1 favourite with Roger Varian’s Moyglare second Daahyeh rated next best in the betting.

Dundalk Group Three on Friday

O’Brien’s ambitions on Friday night at Dundalk will not be as exalted although the Group Three Matthews Diamond Stakes could give Ballydoyle’s stalwart Hunting Horn a rare winning opportunity.

Hunting Horn hasn’t won since last year’s Hampton Court at Royal Ascot and has often been employed in a pace-making role for more high-profile stable companions since then.

This year alone he has run in Florida, Doha, Dubai and New York before appearing in some of Europe’s biggest races such as the King George and the Eclipse through the summer.

He was last seen cutting out the pace in Magical’s Irish Champion Stakes victory before fading to last.

However he is top rated on 115 for Friday evening’s race which is again an option for last year’s winner, the English trained Mootasadir.

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