MAGNA Grecia will bid to provide Aidan O’Brien with a ninth victory in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.
It is 21 years since the Ballydoyle handler first claimed the final Group One of the British Flat season with Saratoga Springs (1997) and he has since added to his tally with the likes of High Chaparral (2001), St Nicholas Abbey (2009), Camelot (2011) and last year’s hero Saxon Warrior.
Magna Grecia created a big impression when making a successful racecourse debut at Naas last month before being narrowly denied by Andre Fabre’s French challenger Persian King in the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket just a fortnight ago.
The Invincible Spirit colt was supplemented for this weekend’s Town Moor feature – the final Group One race of the 2018 Flat season – and looks set to be a hot favourite in the hands of the trainer’s son, Donnacha.
O’Brien senior said: “Magna Grecia is in good form. Obviously it’s not long since he ran in Newmarket, but he seems to be in good form since.
“We were delighted with his run that day. He progressed nicely from his first run and we were delighted with it.”
O’Brien also saddles Circus Maximus and Western Australia.
Champion trainer John Gosden has surprisingly never won this particular prize and this year fires a twin assault.
The Clarehaven maestro’s chief hope appears to be Turgenev, who has registered successive wins at Newcastle and Newmarket since filling the runner-up spot on his Doncaster debut.
“He’s a progressive horse. He is only a novice winner and he doesn’t come with any Group race form, but he is a nice horse,” said Gosden.
With Oisin Murphy in Australia to partner Benbatl in the Cox Plate, Kieran O’Neill takes the ride on Turgenev’s Qatar Racing-owned stablemate Kick On, who dominated his rivals at Newmarket last time out.