O’Brien underlines Breeders’ Cup contenders

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ASCOT, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 15: Aidan O’Brien on the track at Ascot Racecourse on October 15, 2016 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Aidan O’Brien is confident that some of his star names are ready to shine at the Breeders’ Cup.

The Ballydoyle supremo can already lay claim to a dozen Breeders’ Cup race wins amongst his haul of worldwide successes and he could be represented by as many as nine horses at Keeneland on November 6th & 7th.

Magical and Circus Maximus are being prepped for Breeders’ Cup returns, while two-year-old Battleground will be making the journey stateside for the first time.

Both Magical and Circus Maximus endured degrees of disappointment in their recent starts at Ascot on British Champions Day.

The mare Magical was only third in the defence of her Champion Stakes crown as Addeybb won, while Circus Maximus was down the field in the QEII won by The Revenant.

O’Brien cites the heavy ground on the day as a reason for under par performances and certainly isn’t losing any faith in seven-time Group 1 winner Magical, who was second to Enable in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf.

She will be considered for the Turf and the Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland.

“She ran very well again the last day in very bad ground at Ascot even though that wouldn’t have suited her. What can you say really, she is something really special,” said the trainer.

Circus Maximus finished fourth having started as one of the favourites in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile. His form coming into the meeting this year is not as strong but O’Brien feels a big performance is lurking in the four-year-old, winner of the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on his first start this term.

“Ascot [in the QEII] was a bit of a mess. The ground was very heavy, they went very slow. It probably did not suit him,” said the handler.

“He came out of the race very well. We think the track and the ground should be fine for him. He likes the hustle bustle of a race, likes when there is plenty of pace on. He should get all of those things.”

Battleground, a son of War Front, was also a Royal Ascot winner in the Chesham this summer and added to that with a Glorious Goodwood Group 2 in July via the Vintage Stakes.

He’s been off since that win but his trainer suggests he should relish the American experience, with his dam Found a Breeders’ Cup Turf winner in her day, along with a step up in trip for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at the mile.

“He is a horse we’ve always looked forward to stepping up to a mile. We think Keeneland will suit him. He’s a big, powerful horse out of Found. He’s a classy horse,” he added.

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