O’Brien unsure whether Order of St George will make Irish Leger

Trainer says if favourite doesn’t run in Irish St Leger he’ll be bound for stud next year

Aidan O’Brien starts the autumn in force with a dozen runners at the Curragh on Saturday but admits he’s not sure if Ballydoyle’s stalwart campaigner Order Of St George will ever race again.

There are two weeks to go until “Irish Champions Weekend” and although Order Of St George is an odds-on favourite to secure a third success in the Comer Group Irish St Leger he is not certain to start.

The six year old star hasn't run since finishing fourth in the Ascot Gold Cup and missed his traditional Leger warm up last week.

“We couldn’t get the run in the Trial into him. He wasn’t 100 per cent right to run. I can’t say for definite but I’m not sure he’s going to make Champions Weekend,” O’Brien conceded on Friday.


“If he doesn’t run in that, he won’t run anymore. Everyone’s mad for him to go to stud next year. But there’s a good bit of time to go [until Champions Weekend] so we will see,” he added.

The Leger is the highlight of the Curragh’s leg of Irish Champions Weekend and Order Of George has run in it for the last three years. He won in both 2015 and 2017 but was dramatically defeated as a 1-7 favourite by Wicklow Brave in between.

The QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes is the Day One "ICW" feature at Leopardstown and O'Brien's 2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior remains in the mix for that.

Saxon Warrior finished only fourth to his old rival Roaring Lion in York’s Juddmonte International and was described as being very sick after finishing runner -up to the same colt in July’s Eclipse.

“We were very happy with him this morning. There won’t be a decision [on Leopardstown] until next week but there’s a good chance he’s really come forward for his last run,” O’Brien said.

Haydock's Sprint Cup will be next weekend's Group One highlight but it is the world's richest turf race in Australia on October 13 which will be targeted by Ballydoyle's top speedster, US Navy Flag.

The $13 million Everest at the Randwick track in Sydney is the objective for US Navy Flag who has been on a break since winning the July Cup at Newmarket shortly before the well publicised bout of illness that interrupted O'Brien's summer plans.

Little rest

“There’s a chance he will go to Naas on Tuesday for a racecourse gallop and then go into quarantine before heading straight to Australia without a prep,” O’Brien explained.

“The reason he had a break was he had a very tough first half of the year. Obviously when they were all a little bit under the weather he was on a little rest so we’re very happy with him,” he added.

The 2018 season has failed to live up to the standards of O’Brien’s superb 2017 which saw Capri contribute twice to his trainer’s world record 28 Group Ones in both the Irish Derby and the English Leger.

Capri sustained a shoulder problem in the spring but is now ready to resume his career and could return to action in the Prix Foy at Longchamp in two weeks time.

“Capri is back in full work and the plan is to go to Longchamp on Arc Trials Day [September 16th]. If everything went well he could turn up in the Arc after that. He only had the one run at the start of the season and it’s taken a little time to get him fit but we’re happy where he is,” the trainer said.

Also in contention to travel to Paris for Trials Day are Magic Wand, who has a potential clash with Lah Ti Dar in her sights in the Prix Vermeille, while both Hunting Horn and Rostropovich may line up in the Prix Niel.

In the short term Donnacha O’Brien’s championship ambitions could get a boost on Saturday’s Curragh card.

The 20-year-old triple-Classic winner has four mounts for his father, and a couple for his brother Joseph, on the sole domestic card during All-Ireland football final weekend.

Ten Sovereigns made a striking career debut at the track last weekend and while another seven length margin is asking a lot he should be hard to beat in the Group Three Round Tower Stakes.

Just Wonderful is bred to appreciate a step up to a mile for another Group Three, the Flame Of Tara Stakes, while Perfect Tapatino can score for the O'Brien siblings in a handicap.

A total of 22 line up for the €100,000 Irish Cambridgeshire where Johnny Murtagh has a couple of three year olds at the right end of the ratings.

Lethal Power could be well suited by a fast run mile and a little cut on the ground. With 7lb claim he will have an effective featherweight on his back.

That ease in the going looks ideal for the Michael Stoute-trained Desert Diamond who sluiced up by six lengths in a York Listed race on soft ground in July.

She has the Irish Oaks third Mary Tudor among her opposition but nine furlongs in these conditions might be ideal for the English raider.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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