Monday Musings: Very Few Racing Certainties

As a certain young tennis player showed the world last week, nothing is guaranteed in sport, writes Tony Stafford. Certainly, when Aidan O’Brien assembled the cavalry for their dual skirmishes around the Curragh and on the manicured lawns of Longchamp last weekend, he and the Coolmore owners were expecting more than a single winner.

Okay, so St Mark’s Basilica, forced out of York but now refreshed for the task in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday, did see off the dual threat of top older mare Tarnawa and fellow multiple Group 1-winning three-year-old Poetic Flare, but that is pretty much where it ended.

True, Mother Earth should have won the Matron Stakes on the same day bar being pressed against the rail by 25-1 winner No Speak Alexander, whose rider forced Ryan Moore to ease her close home when short of room. It was only the intervention of second-placed Pearls Galore that prevented the 1,000 Guineas and Prix Rothschild winner from collecting a third Group 1 in the stewards’ room.

Luck in general was hardly on their side over the weekend. Innisfree, one of their best-backed horses at Leopardstown, was poised to collect in the Group 3 when going wrong and having to be pulled up by the same luckless pilot.

But when sending seven individual winners of Group 1 races during the current season for such an important two days’ racing not just in Ireland (Champions Weekend), but also in France (Arc Trials Day) and UK (Saturday’s St Leger), one may be forgiven for expecting at least a few of them to win.

The biggest shock of course was the ending of the explosive victory roll throughout the year of Snowfall, from unconsidered winner of the Musidora in May, through the record-making 18-length romp in the Oaks, nine-length demolition in the Irish version, and latterly a more measured four in York.

Cynics said divide it again and make it two but rather than a multiplying factor, it was the linear reduction that applied. Go from nine to four, take off another five, and you get a first defeat. Teona, third at York and a 28-length disappointment in tenth at Epsom, opted out of the Curragh and a return to the Knavesmire, instead restoring her reputation in a Windsor Listed race. Roger Varian had her primed and the resulting one and a half length (that’s the linear version working to a nicety!) put the 1-5 shot in her place.

The tell-tale stat, as if we needed to illustrate further the law of diminishing Snowfall returns, was the location of La Joconde, a daughter of Frankel and part of the regular team of maids of honour attending the queen on her perambulations around Europe.

La Joconde, a 40-1 shot at Epsom, was 11th of 14 there, beaten 34 lengths. At the Curragh, having first stopped off at Roscommon to break her maiden, she was again 40/1 when sixth, beaten 20 lengths, and the gulf contracted to just under seven lengths at York. Yesterday La Joconde, 44-1 under Hollie Doyle, was only half a length behind her principal in third, so some nice black type for her – well, they needed something on which to reflect favourably!

The Frankie Dettori magic on O’Brien horses – often getting on the Ryan Moore discards – didn’t extend to Doncaster on Saturday, either. With the stable number one in Ireland, Frankie had his first experience of riding one-time Derby favourite High Definition in the St Leger but true to form this disappointing animal proved worst of the quartet from Ballydoyle beating only one home.

The Mediterranean (28/1) in third and Hollie Doyle-ridden Interpretation (shortest of the quartet at 8-1) in fourth did as well as could be expected as Irish Derby winner Hurricane Lane continued his upward climb for William Buick and Charlie Appleby. Mojo Star, second in the Derby to Adayar and unlucky-in-running in Ireland, ran a big race again but was no match for the winner who is right up there at the top of the tree.

High Definition had been favourite for all three earlier starts, but now the plug had been properly pulled and he was relatively friendless at 14’s. In all honesty he should have been double those odds but highly-held reputations earned on the Ballydoyle gallops are not easily relinquished, especially among the bookmakers.

Reappearing at York in May after an interrupted preparation he was a rusty third behind Hurricane Lane in the Dante. Yet there he was next time at the Curragh, again favourite, this time for the Irish Derby, and you could hardly have imagined a less enthusiastic performance: always loitering at the back while Hurricane Lane was again doing their untroubled business while others, notably Mojo Star, were getting hung up in traffic.

The final straw ought to have been the Great Voltigeur back at York, the traditional St Leger trial, when again unbelievably favourite, he mooched into sixth of eight. He was a decent enough juvenile but the glitter has evaporated on the track in his Classic year. It happens to the best of trainers and even Aidan.

Talking of final straws, Hughie Morrison, spitting blood when Sonnyboyliston edged out his rallying Quickthorn for first prize in the Ebor, citing how well handicapped Johnny Murtagh’s horse had been, now has chapter and verse on his side as Murtagh’s stayer collected yesterday’s Irish St Leger. Rated 113, he got the better of 117-rated Twilight Payment to earn the greater part of €300k more to swell his month’s earnings to half a million, Raducanu proportions almost!

Quickthorn beat the 2020 St Leger runner-up Berkshire Rocco, conceding him weight in a conditions race at Salisbury last week, proving much too good despite losing 20 lengths at the start. No doubt he’ll be giving weight to Murtagh’s horse next time!

Appleby and Buick again had the wood on O’Brien and Moore at the Curragh yesterday in the National Stakes when Native Trail saw off Point Lonsdale in a clash of two unbeaten colts. Both had gone through the ring at Tattersalls: Point Lonsdale, by Australia, at the yearling sales when a 575,000gns purchase by MV Magnier. His four wins in a row – a maiden, Listed, Group 3 and Group 2, all with comfort – explained the 8/13 starting price.

But Native Trail, a 210,000gns acquisition from the Craven Breeze-ups this year, had won two, with a narrow success in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at the July meeting at his home course, suggesting better to come. So it proved, Native Trail overturning the favourite after a short, sharp tussle. He must have moved right to the top of the two-year-old rankings after that.

Hard as the high-profile defeats had been, it must have been even more disappointing that Love and Broome, back in Group 2 company having both added in numerical terms to their top-level success – Love’s Ascot victory had been a little palled by two subsequent third places, admittedly in the King George and Juddmonte – could not convert the lower-level opportunities.

Broome had won the Group 1 Prix de Saint-Cloud but a return to France for his Arc Trial in the Prix Foy proved a disappointment as the Japanese Deep Bond made all in this full dress rehearsal for four-year-olds and up. Anyone fancying a bet on the big race next month would be well served placing a bet on course on the PMU as the hordes of supporters of the Japanese horses always distort even markets on world pool races.

Love’s defeat came from an unlikely source. When my friend Nicolas Clement bought a filly by Derby-winning Galileo stallion Ruler Of The World for Jonathan Barnett he paid the princely sum of €21,000 (his budget was €40k!). Clement has been adamant all along that she is the most promising of his fillies for next year and expects her to make a debut late next month. His reasoning was that Ruler Of The World is a vastly underrated sire.

As the result of yesterday’s Group 2 Blandford Stakes is digested it will show that La Petite Coco was winning for the fourth time in five starts for Paddy Twomey. She got up in the last stride to deny Love, with the third horse three lengths away. Already rated 110, La Petite Coco looks one to follow.

She has been the joint most productive filly by her sire in Ireland, from only a small representation, as he is based in France. Pineapple Express, trained and ridden by father and son Andrew Slattery (x2), was beaten a neck in the 23-runner finale handicap there yesterday. That made in four wins and three seconds in ten 2021 outings for her. I can’t wait to see Jonathan’s filly on the track.


In other news, it will hopefully be off to Yarmouth this week, either Wednesday or Thursday, for the three-year-old Dusky Lord, in whom Barnett is a partner along with Theona’s trainer, Roger Varian. I expect Roger to be in a decent mood when I speak to him before the race.

One very sad note was the death of Andy Stewart, owner of Big Buck’s and so many great jumpers, starting with Cenkos, over the past three decades. I knew him from even before he set up the company of that name with which he made his fortune.

We first met when he worked with investment bankers Singer & Friedlander, sponsors of a big chase every year at Uttoxeter. He liked to talk about his team of greyhounds at Hove stadium, with little thought of moving up into horses. That he did and with Paul Nicholls too was a joy for so many, especially the way in which he embraced horse racing and how graciously he treated everyone he met.

  • TS

St Mark’s Basilica comes on top in thrilling Irish Champion

St Mark’s Basilica landed the odds in a pulsating renewal of the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Having his first race since winning the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown 10 weeks ago, St Mark’s Basilica (5-6 favourite) showed his trademark brilliance to overcome two Group One winners in Tarnawa and Poetic Flare in an absorbing tactical affair for the mile-and-a-quarter showpiece.

Aidan O’Brien’s crack three-year-old colt had missed the Juddmonte International at York due to a setback – but was able to show his superiority to add this race to his victories in the French 2000 Guineas and French Derby this season.

Patrick Sarsfield, the outsider of four, made the running until inside the final quarter-mile where the other three knuckled down to battle it out.

St Mark’s Basilica drifted right in the closing stages, taking Tarnawa with him, but got the verdict by a three-quarters of a length in the hands of Ryan Moore – although it was anxious wait for the result to be confirmed in a stewards’ inquiry.

Poetic Flare was a nose away in third place, on his first start over 10 furlongs. Patrick Sarsfield was seven and a half lengths away last of the quartet.

“It was great because it was very tactical,” said O’Brien.

“They sprinted up the straight and he did well. He had a bit of catch up to do after the last day (missing York).

“One thing we knew is that he does quicken. That’s what he always had – his strong qualities are that he relaxes and can really turn it on.

“They set off a nice pace, Kevin (Manning, on Poetic Flare) was in second and he steadied it down to get himself straightened up and set up.

“When they turned in they burned and I’d love to see what time they did for the last two furlongs. They ran up the straight.

“He’s just an exceptional horse and we’re very lucky to have him. All the lads at home have done a great job with him to get him back here today after the last day.”

He added: “The two targets he had were York and here, and after that we were going to see what way he came out of it and see what way we were going to go.

“He has all the options, he can go back to a mile or go a mile-and-a-quarter. All those races have to be there. A little bit of a problem with the QEII, we know that he handles soft ground but Ascot can be run in very bad ground.

“He did well to get back here after York and we’ll see how he is after this.”

Moore picked up a one-day ban for careless riding.

Top trio face Irish Champion Stakes showdown

St Mark’s Basilica, Tarnawa and Poetic Flare have all been declared among a field of four in Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-old St Mark’s Basilica arrives on a four-race Group One-winning streak over the course of two seasons.

He won the Dewhurst on his final start at two and this season has added the French Guineas and Derby before beating his elders in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

While a minor setback ruled him out of the Juddmonte International at York, O’Brien nominated this race as his next suitable objective.

Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa is the second multiple Group One scorer in the field.

She won the Prix Vermeille, Prix de l’Opera and Breeders’ Cup Turf last season and while she has only run once this term as she builds up towards the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, she was very impressive in Group Three company.

Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare will race over 10 furlongs for the first time having won the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes this year.

He has also been second in the Irish 2000 Guineas, Sussex Stakes and Prix Jacques le Marois.

The fourth and final runner in the field is Joseph O’Brien’s Patrick Sarsfield, who was second to Juan Elcano in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot last time out.

Aidan O’Brien runs two Guineas winners in Mother Earth and Empress Josephine in the Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes, along with Friendly.

Pretty Gorgeous (Joseph O’Brien) and Shale (Donnacha O’Brien) will meet again having repeatedly clashed last season, but both have failed to reproduce their top-class juvenile form this term.

Johnny Murtagh runs last year’s winner Champers Elysees but not Create Belief, with Pearls Galore and Epona Plays also among a field of 13.

Irish Guineas winner Mac Swiney is among a field of 14 in the Clipper Logisitics Boomerang Mile, while Ger Lyons’ Atomic Jones and Fozzy Stack’s John The Baptist are defending unbeaten records in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes.

Irish Champion intended destination for Poetic Flare

Poetic Flare is set to step up in trip for next week’s Irish Champion Stakes after trainer Jim Bolger decided against a clash with Baaeed in France on Sunday.

The duo had been in line to face off in the Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp, with Poetic Flare bringing Group One victories to the table having landed both the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes this term, while Baaeed is a rising star and unbeaten in four starts so far.

However, Bolger – who warned earlier in the week he would monitor weather conditions in deciding where he would run – has decided to plot a different course with Poetic Flare, instead opting to try 10 furlongs at Leopardstown with his Dawn Approach colt, who was last seen when just edged out by Palace Pier in a thrilling edition of the Prix Jacques le Marois.

Kevin Manning celebrates winning the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes on Poetic Flare
Kevin Manning celebrates winning the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes on Poetic Flare (John Walton/PA)

He told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast: “I’ve got the weather forecast for the week, (and) while it’s going to rain, I don’t think it will be enough to produce soft ground, so I’m taking a chance and at this stage we’re saying we’re going to Leopardstown.”

In a stellar season, Poetic Flare has proved himself without doubt one of the toughest and best milers of recent years, as aside from his big-race victories and run behind Palace Pier he has also been second to stablemate Mac Swiney in the Irish Guineas and runner-up to Alcohol Free in the Sussex Stakes.

Should he run in the feature on the opening day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend he is likely to meet two formidable opponents in Aidan O’Brien’s St Mark’s Basilica and the Dermot Weld-trained Tarnawa.

Bolger explained that a combination of financial factors and ground conditions at Leopardstown had been key to his decision rather than the potential opposition at either venue.

He said: “(I was tempted to run in France) because I thought Leopardstown might get more rain, but I’m reasonably satisfied now that the going will be OK at Leopardstown.

“I’m not thinking about which is tough, I’m just going for which race I think suits best on the day. I’m not concerned about who goes where – I’m only concerned about the going.

“I can’t be sure (10 furlongs will suit better than a mile), but weighing up all the considerations, it’s been fairly easy for me to opt for Leopardstown.

“If you want to look at the financial side, the winner in Longchamp would take home about 250,000, which is not inconsiderable, and at Leopardstown it will be almost 700,000 I reckon. As someone who has to run the sport come business in a reasonably financial manner, Leopardstown makes more appeal.

“Leopardstown is home as well and we don’t have to spend 80,000 on an aeroplane so for that reason, Leopardstown was a no-brainer but then I had to consider the going. They are the only considerations, I’m not concerned about who else is going there as long as there’s room for us.

“It’s been the best mile-and-a-quarter race in the world in the last number of years.”

Jim Bolger reports his star miler to be in fine form
Jim Bolger reports his star miler to be in fine form (Mike Egerton/PA)

While Bolger is not certain Poetic Flare will thrive for a mile and a quarter, he has seen plenty in his manner of racing to raise to indicate he will.

He said: “This fella wouldn’t know how to be in any other shape – only top shape. That’s the sort of horse he is. He pulls out with his tail up every morning, it doesn’t matter if it’s the day after a race, he’s the same. You just couldn’t give him too much.

“I won’t be confident (about 10 furlongs suiting) until after Saturday week, but I’m reasonably sure by the way he was coming home in his mile races off a very fast pace that he will stay the extra two furlongs.

“If you look at Ascot, (it was) a record time for the race – even faster than the great horses that have won it in the past, including Frankel. He didn’t seem to be stopping as he approached the line so I’m reasonably confident he will get the trip and if he doesn’t, so be it.”

Jim Bolger holds Baaeed in high regard
Jim Bolger holds Baaeed in high regard (Tim Goode/PA)

Although Poetic Flare and Baaeed will now not meet in France, Bolger raised the possibility of a clash in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day next month.

He added: “(William Haggas) wouldn’t have been too concerned about who turned up (at Deauville) either because I’m sure he feels the same way about his horse. From what we’ve seen he’s entitled to feel that way.

“It would have been interesting and maybe we’ll meet at Ascot.”

Weld looking to Tarnawa to break Irish Champion duck

Dermot Weld has yet to win the Irish Champion Stakes, but he will be heading to Leopardstown on September 11 with exceedingly high hopes for Tarnawa.

Weld, who went close with Free Eagle in 2015 when he was unfortunate behind Golden Horn in finishing third, could not be happier with his stable star.

She will arrive on a five-race winning streak which includes two Group One victories in France and a famous Breeders’ Cup success.

Tarnawa has only run once this season, when winning the Ballyroan Stakes easily, as Weld builds her up for a crack at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Weld said: “We’re hopeful. At the top end it’s always difficult to get the stars as competition in world racing is so keen at the very top.

“We were unlucky a couple of years ago that we didn’t win it with Free Eagle as he got a bump off Golden Horn which cost him the race.

“She’s got a very good chance, she’s second-favourite for the race and a worthy second-favourite and I expect her to give a good account of herself.

“I thought she was magnificent (at Leopardstown), did everything very professionally and got a very confident ride off Colin Keane.”

After Leopardstown, all roads lead to ParisLongchamp, with Golden Horn the last horse won win both races in the same season.

“There’s no reason why she can’t (go on and win the Arc) but I’m equally aware of the strength of the opposition this particular year,” Weld told Horse Racing Ireland.

“I think we’ve walked into one of the most competitive years there’s been recently from a ratings point of view.

“Apart from the obvious other fillies (Snowfall and Wonderful Tonight) there are some outstanding, progressive three-year-old colts (Adayar) that will make it into a wonderful race.”

Magical thwarts Ghaiyyath in Irish Champion epic

Magical got the better of Ghaiyyath in a pulsating finish to the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by Seamie Heffernan, the five-year-old mare was turning around Juddmonte International form with Ghaiyyath, as the pair went head to head from the off.

As usual, William Buick set out to make all on the Charlie Appleby-trained 8-13 favourite – but the distress signals were starting to emerge at the top of the straight as Magical moved upsides, while Japan switched to the inside rail to throw down his challenge.

To his credit, Ghaiyyath kept fighting, but Magical (9-2) found an extra gear in the final half-furlong to pull clear at the line, scoring by three-quarters of a length as she repeated her victory from 12 months ago, becoming just the second back-to-back winner after O’Brien’s Dylan Thomas in 2006 and 2007.

O’Brien said: “We were very happy after York, we saw what she was able to do. When she went by herself in York, she just lost interest a little bit and then the others came around her and she started staying on after the race was over.

“What she always wants is to eyeball a horse and battle. Seamie was happy to make the running today if William wanted to get a lead and if William was going to go on, Seamie was going to go with him to keep her interested and he gave her a brilliant ride.

“She’s a serious mare when you get into a battle with her and when you really get into a battle with her, that’s when you really see what she can do, as you saw there today.

Magical just proved too strong for Ghaiyyath
Magical just proved too strong for Ghaiyyath (PA)

Magical was initially retired from racing at the end of last year after a setback ruled her out of a planned Breeders’ Cup run, but owners John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith reversed that decision and returned her to training in the spring – a move that has reaped rich dividends.

O’Brien said: “The lads made the call and all credit to them for doing it.

“She was booked to go to No Nay Never and we were just so delighted that they decided to give her another go. They said that hopefully No Nay Never will be there next year and hopefully she will be as well. She’s an amazing mare.

“I suppose we are learning about her all the time. If you get away from her she gets a bit lazy, but if you get into a fight with her very few will eyeball her.

“That’s what she did – she eyeballed the colt all the way.

“She’s a great filly. It wasn’t a big field, but they were all good horses in it. Armory (third-placed stablemate) ran an unbelievable race as well.

“It’s a massive race. Of all the European races, prestige-wise, this is one of the top, if not the top, because on ratings over a 10-year period, this nearly comes out on top of all the races.

“Every year all the high-rated horses turn up here. It has a perfect place in the calendar, perfect ground, perfect distance.”

O’Brien also houses 1000 Guineas and Oaks winner Love in his Ballydoyle yard, and she currently tops the betting for next month’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.

Magical could also be in the frame for that race – although the Prix de l’Opera is alternative option on the same day, with a trip to America another possible

O’Brien added: “She has the choice of the Arc or the fillies’ race on the same day. It will depend on what the lads want to do with Love.

“The Breeders’ Cup could also suit her really well.”

Charlie Appleby (right) with Ghaiyyath following his Juddmonte win at York last month
Charlie Appleby (right) with Ghaiyyath following his Juddmonte win at York last month (David Davies/PA)

Appleby was magnanimous in defeat, and is no rush to map out Ghaiyyath’s next outing.

He told “I talked with William Buick afterwards, who said that it rode like a decent race and they have gone a good gallop. Turning in, Ghaiyyath was there with every chance but full credit to Magical, who is a multiple Group One winner.

“They have produced another good duel up the straight but she has come out on top this time.

“Ghaiyyath will have a short break now before we decide on our next target. We will make a call over the coming weeks and discuss everything before confirming where to go next with him.”

Ghaiyyath heads super six in Irish Champion

Ghaiyyath will face five rivals in a red-hot renewal of the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday, the first day of Irish Champions Weekend.

Charlie Appleby’s stable star has enjoyed a perfect season, winning the Coronation Cup, beating Enable in the Eclipse and strolling to victory in the Juddmonte International at York.

His trip to Ireland had been up in the air until a change in quarantine regulations meant usual jockey William Buick could take the ride and following a steady gallop on Thursday morning, his participation was confirmed.

“It was a routine piece of work to check his well-being, and he has come through it without a worry,” Appleby told

“It was not strong work, more a breeze, which is normal procedure three days before a race. He’s telling us that he’s ready now for another big race.

“We are really looking forward to the weekend. He travels to Ireland at the peak of his career, unbeaten in four starts this year, three of them Group Ones, two of which were officially rated the best performances globally in 2020.

“He’s now a five-year-old, and by any standards, he is lightly-raced. He has run only 12 times, winning nine and placing twice. This is his fourth season in training, and I believe what we are now seeing is an outstanding racehorse at the top of his game.”

Fantastic Light (right) edged out the brilliant Galileo in 2001
Fantastic Light (right) edged out the brilliant Galileo in 2001 (John Giles/PA)

Appleby added: “He’s going to Leopardstown in as good a condition as we have ever had him. I’m as pleased with him as I was before the Juddmonte International at York, where I thought he was very professional in the manner he went about everything.”

Aidan O’Brien fields three against the Godolphin star in Magical, who finished second to Ghaiyyath at York, last year’s Juddmonte International winner Japan and Armory.

Adding further spice to the contest is Jean-Claude Rouget’s Sottsass, who will be ridden by Colin Keane. Rouget won the race in 2016 with Almanzor.

Jessica Harrington’s Leo De Fury completes the field.

Fancy Blue has enjoyed a great season already
Fancy Blue has enjoyed a great season already (George Selwyn/PA)

The other Group One on Saturday’s card is the Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes in which 11 will go to post.

They are headed by Donnacha O’Brien’s Fancy Blue, already the winner of the French Oaks and the Nassau Stakes this season, but she is now dropping back to a mile. She will be ridden by Ryan Moore.

His father Aidan fields Irish 1000 Guineas winner Peaceful along with So Wonderful and Love Locket, while his brother Joseph runs Argentinian import Wilds Dreams and New York Girl.

Jessica Harrington’s Albigna was a Group One winner last year, but was well beaten in the Guineas on her return and in Group Three company recently. She will be joined by stablemate Valeria Messalina.

Johnny Murtagh is also doubly represented with Champers Elysees and Know It All.

Ger Lyons’ Ides Of August and Jim Bolger’s Jack Duggan will aim to maintain their unbeaten records in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes, while in the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile, Simon and Ed Crisford’s Century Dream will aim to add to his recent Goodwood win against John Quinn’s Safe Voyage – another good ride Keane has picked up.

Ghaiyyath all set for Irish Champion Stakes

Ghaiyyath will run in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, after pleasing trainer Charlie Appleby in a routine piece of work.

The five-year-old showed his well-being when put through his paces with his usual lead horse on Wednesday – to confirm his trip to Ireland this weekend.

“It was a routine piece of work to check his well-being, and he has come through it without a worry,” Appleby told

“It was not strong work, more a breeze, which is normal procedure three days before a race. He’s telling us that he’s ready now for another big race.

“We are really looking forward to the weekend. He travels to Ireland at the peak of his career, unbeaten in four starts this year, three of them Group Ones, two of which were officially rated the best performances globally in 2020.

“He’s now a five-year-old, and by any standards, he is lightly-raced. He has run only 12 times, winning nine and placing twice. This is his fourth season in training, and I believe what we are now seeing is an outstanding racehorse at the top of his game.”

Hopes are therefore very high for another big run on Saturday, after Ghaiyyath’s three successive Group One victories this summer – preceded by a Group Three success at Meydan in February.

Appleby added: “He’s going to Leopardstown in as good a condition as we have ever had him. I’m as pleased with him as I was before the Group One Juddmonte International at York, where I thought he was very professional in the manner he went about everything.

“He showed his maturity. With every race this year, I think he has got better. From Newmarket, where he broke the course record for one and a half miles, galloping from end to end, to Sandown, where he beat Enable….to York, where his brilliance shone through.”