KEVIN Ryan is the first to admit that the odds are stacked against his stable star The Grey Gatsby when he takes on Aidan O’Brien’s all-conquering Derby winner Australia in tonight’s Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
But the fact that Ryan is prepared to run his stable star in this prestigious race three and a half weeks after Australia beat The Grey Gatsby in York’s Juddmonte International is a measure of the infectious confidence at his North Yorkshire yard following its annus mirabilis.
When asked if he would rather not take on Australia, the Hambleton trainer said: “What else am I supposed to do?
“He ran a great race at York but there’s lots of good horses in it – it’s not just a two-horse race by any means. Australia got first run on us at York, but I’m still not sure we’d have beaten him. This is a different day, three weeks later, and they are the two best around. He stays in training next year, there’s no doubt about that.”
Ryan Moore will fly to Leopardstown for the ride after partnering Kings Fete in the Ladbrokes St Leger.
However, tonight’s race is likely to be a tougher proposition than the Juddmonte – Australia was not fully wound up when he raced in York.
“We were delighted he ran in York and got through it and look forward to Leopardstown with him,” said trainer Aidan O’Brien.
“He was only ready to go racing that day. He’d had a good break and done very well. He was only ready for a good racecourse gallop. That was the state he was at and obviously we were a bit worried going into a big race like that, but he came out of it well.”