Magical and Mishriff head 16 contenders in Champion Stakes mix

Magical and Mishriff are two of 16 horses confirmed for the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

The brilliant mare Magical provided Aidan O’Brien with his first first victory in the 10-furlong showpiece 12 months ago, and will return to Berkshire after successfully defending her crown in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

O’Brien could also call upon Japan, Sovereign, Mogul and Derby winner Serpentine. Magical retains an entry in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes on the same card.

The John Gosden-trained Mishriff has emerged as a top-class colt this summer, claiming Classic glory in the Prix du Jockey at Chantilly before returning to France to win the Group Two Prix Guillaume d’Ornano in August.

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Gosden could also saddle Lord North, who was a runaway winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and was last seen finishing third behind Ghaiyyath and Magical in the Juddmonte International at York.

The William Haggas-trained Addeybb was runner-up to Magical in last year’s renewal and will return in a bid to go one better.

Other contenders include William Muir’s St Leger third Pyledriver, possible French challenger Skalleti and Saeed bin Suroor’s Benbatl, who is also entered in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

Muir is looking forward to seeing Pyledriver drop back in distance on Qipco British Champions Day as he seeks a first Group One win after 29 years with a licence.

Muir said: “He’s getting stronger and is starting to retain his weight easier. His work has been good, the same as ever, and I’m very confident I’ve still got him at his best.

“I think if it hadn’t been for this type of year, we would probably not run him over a mile and a six (furlongs) in the St Leger. You can’t be dogmatic and say he didn’t stay because he ground it out, but that was his class.

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Pyledriver has enjoyed a fine season
Pyledriver has enjoyed a fine season (David Davies/PA)

“He wasn’t as effective because we took his gears and speed away from him. Martin (Dwyer) was sitting, waiting and having to hold him on to him when he wanted to kick.

“I’m not worried about the ground and the trip won’t be a problem. Straight after he won the Voltigeur (at York), the jockey went on TV and said he had the pace to win a Group One over a mile and a quarter.”

The trainer is already excited to see what his stable star can achieve next season, adding: “We’ve got loads to look forward to with this horse and, no matter what else, the boys (owners) have had a fantastic time.

“We’ve enjoyed every minute of it and we’ve got next year and the year after with him, when we will be looking at the big races all around the world.”

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