O’Brien dominates Champion contenders

AIDAN O’BRIEN is responsible for five of the 10 entries at the five-day declaration stage for the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.

As well as Rip Van Winkle, the Ballydoyle trainer has left in last year’s runner-up Fame And Glory, plus Irish Derby hero Cape Blanco, Beethoven and Black Quartz as he tries for a sixth success in this race.

Twice Over is set to make a surprise appearance in the race.

The Henry Cecil-trained five-year-old was expected to head straight to Newmarket in October to bid for back-to-back victories in the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes after finishing second in the Juddmonte International.

Connections seem to have a change of heart though, which raises the mouthwatering prospect of a potential rematch with his York conqueror Rip Van Winkle.

Prince Khalid Abdullah is set to be double-handed in the 10-furlong Group One as Dermot Weld’s Famous Name is also set to take his chance.

“They are both intended runners,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Twice Over’s owner Prince Khalid Abdullah,. “Twice Over has come out of the race at York really well and Henry’s pleased with him.”

Famous Name probably wants a bit of cut in the ground if he can get it,” Grimthorpe added. “He’s been in good form and won all his three starts this year and he likes Leopardstown.”

All of Famous Name’s wins in 2010 have come at the Dublin track but the five-year-old is still missing a Group One success from his CV, though he has won nine of his 18 career starts.

Mark Johnston has supplemented Sea Lord, who completed a four-timer when recently adding the Group Three Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury to three handicap wins.

Godolphin’s Cavalryman and Poet, trained by Clive Cox, complete the five-day acceptors.

Poet took the Group Three Kilternan Stakes on this card last September when with O’Brien, but Cox is praying for rain.

“We have left him in at the moment but we are going to need more rain,” said the Lambourn handler.

“Rain is forecast for Saturday but the rest of the week looks dry so we will just have to wait and see.

“He is very well entered and we will be looking towards Goodwood later in the year.

“If he doesn’t run at the weekend, there is the possibility of a Group Two at Longchamp.”

Meanwhile, Bethrah tops a list of 13 fillies left in the Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.

Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s filly, trained by Dermot Weld, has not run since landing the Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh in May.

Aidan O’Brien can choose from Lillie Langtry and Devoted To You, while David Wachman’s Hen Night, Kevin Prendergast’s Alsalwa and Jim Bolger’s Gile Na Greine complete the home team.

A seven-strong British entry is headed by Mick Channon’s Music Show, winner of Newmarket’s Falmouth Stakes and runner-up to Goldikova in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville last time.

James Fanshawe, successful in this race with Soviet Song in 2004, relies on Falmouth second Spacious, while Michael Stoute has left in Falmouth fourth Strawberrydaiquiri.

Mark Johnston’s Rainfall, third in the Falmouth, is entered in this race as well as the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday.

Chris Wall’s Pyrrha, Henry Cecil’s Jacqueline Quest and Saeed bin Suroor’s Long Lashes complete the acceptors.

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