Foxrock next for Australia
O'Brien star confirmed as headline act on first day of the Irish Champions Weekend
As expected, the inaugural Irish Champions Weekend will be boosted with the presence of dual Derby winner Australia in the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes on the opening day at Leopardstown after Aidan O'Brien confirmed the three-year-old for the feature race.
O'Brien has won the race seven times, his first success coming in 2000 with Giant's Causeway, and Australia is already 1/3 to add to his haul in the prestigious 10-furlong Group One contest.
The champion trainer commented: "Australia is in very good form and on course for the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday week."
O'Brien didn't rule out again including Kingfisher in the line-up, although he suggested a pacemaker isn't a necessity for Australia.
"It's not vital but obviously Kingfisher has been with him in the Derbies and at York to make sure it's not a dawdle.
"Australia cruises along and I don't think it's an advantage for anyone if its a dawdle.
Kingfisher is happy go along with an even pace and if anyone wants to go faster that's fine too, but he sets a sensible pace and I think it suits most horses really."
Australia is a three-time Group One winner, having won the Juddmonte International at York just over a fortnight ago and O'Brien made no secret that the colt was far from full fitness on that occasion.
"He had a break after the Irish Derby and then we were just hoping he'd be ready in time to go to York. If he did he was going to go back for the Irish Champion and if we didn't run him at York we were going to go straight for the Irish Champion," said O'Brien.
O'Brien has previously described Australia as the best flat horse he has ever trained and following the Irish Champions Stakes he could be set for a mouth-watering clash with Kingman in the QEII at Ascot in October.
The master of Ballydoyle also confirmed that Ascot Gold Cup winner and recent Curragh victor Leading Light is set to line up in the Irish St Leger on the second day of the Champions Weekend.
The Palmerstown House sponsored 1m6f showpiece is the final Classic of the Irish season.
After returning with a win at HQ recently, Leading Light looks a warm order to continue h is winning streak in the St Leger.
"He had a break after Ascot and it was nice to get a run into him back at the Curragh," said the trainer.
"We're very happy with him and he seems to be in good form since. Hopefully he will progress on to the Leger, his next start.
"Last year, he went on from Doncaster to the Arc. He was drawn wide and was slowly away and got back behind a wall of horses and never got racing really. He finished a very fresh horse really."
Horse Racing Ireland yesterday announced that students will get free entry to the Champions Weekend next week. It is the latest initiative from HRI to promote the weekend, which will host 10 Group races over the two days, five of which are Group Ones.