Classic heroes Golden Horn and Gleneagles star among nine horses confirmed for a mouthwatering renewal of the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.
John Gosden’s Derby winner Golden Horn threatened to dominate the middle-distance division after following up in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in July, but suffered a shock defeat and lost his unbeaten record when touched off by Arabian Queen in last month’s Juddmonte International at York.
Gleneagles completed the 2000 Guineas double at Newmarket and the Curragh in the spring for Aidan O’Brien, but has not been seen since making it three from three for the year in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, missing several engagements due to unfavourable ground conditions in the meantime.
O’Brien has also left in Secretariat Stakes winner Highand Reel and top-class filly Found.
Last year’s winner The Grey Gatsby is set to defend his crown for Kevin Ryan, while Dermot Weld’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes hero Free Eagle is another major contender.
The recently-retired 20-times champion jockey is the headline name among 16 former weighing-room stars returning to the saddle in aid of the Northern Racing College and the Injured Jockeys Fund’s Jack Berry House in the main event on the opening day of the St Leger Festival.
McCoy will ride the Brendan Powell-trained Gannicus in the straight-mile contest, who has been cut to 5-1 favourite from 6-1 by William Hill, with Murtagh, a five-time champion jockey on the Flat in Ireland, getting the leg up on Commissar for trainer Ian Williams.
McCoy said: “I’m looking forward to this. Johnny Murtagh said he hopes it’s me and him in the final furlong because he wants to find out how good I really am.
“Hopefully it’ll come down to strength in the end and I’ll be looking back to see where Johnny is!”
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