Donnacha O'Brien Takes Over From Ryan Moore For The Day

Ballydoyle's second string rider Donnacha O'Brien will become number one on Saturday at Ascot as Ryan Moore heads down under to ride Ten Sovereigns in the The Everest at Randwick.

The young rider is currently leading the way over in the Ireland for the jockey championships just sitting above Colin Keane with just a few meetings left of the season.

He has had winners at some of the big festivals in Britain but with Ryan Moore having the first pick of Aidan O'Brien's runners he is usually the one to take the bigger honours.

However Donnacha now has the chance to land his first ever winner on British Champions Day with some really strong rides for both his father and his Brother with both the family members looking to take a strong team to Ascot at the weekend.

The card starts with the Group One Sprint Stakes where the young jockey has a dilemma of who to ride.

(Credit At The Races) He said: “I think So Perfect is heading for the Sprint. But Joseph has Speak In Colours in it too, so I’m not 100 per cent sure what I’m going to ride just yet, but they both have a little chance.

“I think five furlongs on soft ground is probably ideal for So Perfect. But when you have sprinters in form you can keep running them, so there’s nothing to say she won’t run a big race over six.

“Speak In Colours is a lovely little horse. He runs his race every time, handles any ground and does things right. He had a very good run at Ascot in the summer, so he’d have a bit of a chance.”

In the British Champion Fillies & Mares Stakes there are some huge entries for Aidan O'Brien with Donnacha needing to make a key decision on who he wants to ride.

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“Magical has some top-class form to her name, and if she ran here would set the standard. But Star Catcher, if she turns up, has some very good form to her name too,” said Ireland’s champion jockey.

“I’m just not sure if Magical runs here or in the Champion Stakes, but she’s an unbelievable mare and will have a big chance wherever she runs.

“Fleeting has been a little unlucky. I thought I might have won the Irish Oaks on her and then she was a bit unlucky in France last time.

“She likes to be ridden that way, where you take your time, but when you do that there’s always a risk of meeting trouble and you need a bit of luck. Some of her form is up there with the best of any fillies.”

It looks likely that 2018 St Leger winner Kew Gardens will go in the Long Distance Cup and take on Stradivarius and the rider believes he holds a huge chance.

“Stradivarius has shown he’s the dominant stayer in Europe – but the only one that could possibly give him something to think about would be Kew Gardens, I suppose,” he said.

“He has very high class form over a mile and a half and a mile and six furlongs, and he ran a very good race in the Irish Leger off a very slow pace. He has the potential to put it up to Stradivarius, especially with the ground looking like it’s going to be very soft.

“Hopefully he’s got a big chance, because he could even improve for his run at the Curragh, while Stradivarius has had a hard summer. Those staying races take it out of you, even though he’s been winning them easy.”


The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes should see the return of Magna Grecia who landed the 2000 Guineas earlier on in the year and he has not bee seen since flopping in the Irish version and could come back with a resurgent run.

The jockey added: “I wouldn’t mind a bit of juice in the ground for Magna Grecia.

“Obviously we don’t know how bad it’s going to be yet. By the sounds of it, it’s going to be pretty bad, and ideally you wouldn’t want it to be heavy for any top-class horse.

“He’ll probably get through it better than some, though. I wouldn’t be as worried about it for him as some of the others.

The feature of the afternoon will be the Champion Stakes where current leader in the Cartier horse of the year standings, Magical is set to head to post and may be joined by Juddmonte International winner Japan.

Both of these horses finished fourth and fifth in the recent Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Donnacha has explained what the plan is for the pairing.

O’Brien added: “Japan ran a very good race in the Arc and if he did run, you’d have to think he’d have a very good chance – but it’s just not 100 per cent that he does go yet, and I’d say Dad doesn’t know himself.

“I honestly don’t know if he’d go to the Breeders’ Cup if he didn’t run, but he could possibly. He’s got tactical pace – which is key out there – but he could be let off for the year to be brought back next season, I just don’t know. He has gate speed, which is important for America.

“Magical maybe doesn’t quite get home over a mile and a half in very soft ground, so that maybe found her out in the Arc. So dropping back to a mile and a quarter could suit her – but where she goes yet, I don’t know. She’s a very high-class filly who would have a chance in either race.”

(Credit At The Races for the quotes shown)