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Last Updated: 18/06/13 2:31pm
Magician: An incredibly exciting horse
Magician is set to spearhead Aidan O'Brien's bid for a seventh St James's Palace Stakes success at Royal Ascot on Tuesday after overcoming a late scare.
Bruising that the Irish 2,000 Guineas hero suffered in a knock on Thursday has disappeared and he is posied to take his chance in what has the makings of a vintage renewal of the Group One over a mile.
Magician's pilot Joseph O'Brien, son of the Ballydoyle handler, is looking forward to the contest and the chance to take on Newmarket 2000 Guineas victor Dawn Approach, who ruined his chance in the Investec Derby when refusing to settle for much of the mile-and-a-half journey.
"He'll be checked over before he gets on the box, but at the moment I think he's good and ready to take his chance, hopefully," said the jockey.
"It's a good race. Dawn Approach is a very high-class horse and I'm sure if they didn't think he was 100% he wouldn't be running. You can't fault him if you take the Derby run away, but we're hoping our horse can put it up to him."
Victory would see Magician stake his claim to be champion three-year-old in Europe over a mile.
O'Brien senior told At The Races: "He looks an incredibly exciting horse. The lads (Coolmore) made that decision (to run in the Irish Guineas) - I wouldn't have been brave enough to bring him back in trip (after the Dee Stakes over a mile and a quarter).
"It was a great decision on their part and it clearly paid off. He's a horse with a lot of class - he travels very strongly and keeps on going. He has a lot of speed. Everybody saw at the Curragh how strong he travelled.
"I'd hope he'd never have to go much further than a mile and a quarter. Whether he has to go further than a mile, I wouldn't be sure."
Ryan Moore gets the leg up on the O'Brien second string Mars, who drops back in trip after finishing sixth behind stablemate Ruler Of The World at Epsom.
"He's a high-class horse with loads of ability and hopefully he can put it all together," said O'Brien snr. "He won his maiden and he's only run in Group Ones since, so he's been thrown straight in at the deep end.
"He ran well in the Guineas and the Derby and hopefully he'll run a nice race again."
O'Brien jnr feels it would be foolish to overlook Mars' prospects. "We think he could be a little like Rip Van Winkle in that he had the stamina to run well in a Derby but has the speed to run well over a mile," he said.
"In his work he hits 40mph which is very fast so he might be better off coming back down in distance."
Big outsider George Vancouver completes the O'Brien trio in a nine-runner line-up.
Dawn Approach was magnificent when running away with the 2000 Guineas but blotted his copybook when tailed off last in the Derby after being virtually uncontrollable for jockey Kevin Manning when running too free early in the race.
He looked like missing the Royal meeting but connections had a rethink and are confident the son of New Approach can redeem himself back over a mile.
"Dawn Approach is in great form and I have been very happy with his work since he ran at Epsom Downs," trainer Jim Bolger told www.godolphin.com.
"I have no reason to think that he is any less of a horse now than when he won the 2000 Guineas."
Simon Crisford, racing manager of owners Godolphin, expects there to be no repeat of Dawn Approach's Epsom behaviour espeically as stable companion Leitir Mor is in the field.
"Obviously, we have been guided by Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning about Dawn Approach. They are very happy with him," he said.
"Dawn Approach has a pacemaker, his usual one (Leitir Mor), in the St James's Palace Stakes and that has to be of assistance. He is back over a mile. The pacemaker and an honest pace means there should be no repeat of what happened at Epsom. Hopefully, Dawn Approach can reproduce his Guineas effort."
Toronado was a big disappointment when only fourth in the 2000 Guineas, but connections have worked tirelessly to ensure the colt has every chance of being seen at his best at Royal Ascot.
"We know we did not see the real Toronado in the Guineas, but everything he has done at home since he resumed exercise has convinced us that we still have the real deal," he told www.richardhannonracing.co.uk.
"We believe that he suffered a displaced palate as soon as he left the stalls at Newmarket, so he did remarkably well to finish fourth. He was legless at the end and in another 100 yards would have trailed in last.
"However, we have switched him from Everleigh to Herridge and also changed his tack, and both seem to have had a positive effect.
"He is much more relaxed and is breathing properly again, and, whereas we could have gone for the tongue-tie, a lot of horses do not find that comfortable, so we went for the spoon-bit, which we have used on several of our horses in the past, and he seems very happy in it.
"He worked super in his final gallop, and, while we don't underestimate either Dawn Approach or Magician, we are just focussing on ensuring that our horse is back to his best and able to run to his full potential."
Jockey Richard Hughes is another whose belief in the son of High Chaparral remains intact.
"I haven't lost faith in him, we know he wasn't at his best in the Guineas yet he was still there at the two-pole on the bit and not many horses would have done that with the fractions they were doing," he told At The Races.
"Something went amiss, his pallet went, he wasn't getting much air. He's very talented but he has to prove himself now. I know what he is but we have to get everyone else to see how good he is.
"He travels, he has speed and he stays, he's the most beautiful mover you could ever ride and he's got a good temperament on him as well. Going round a bend won't bother him, he's easy."
The 2000 Guineas form has been knocked because 150/1 shot Glory Awaits took second place, five lengths behind an imperious Dawn Approach.
However, his trainer Kevin Ryan dismisses the doubters in the belief that the application of blinkers has made all the difference.
"We were very hopeful we could trouble the top two in the betting (at Newmarket)," he said. "He's a very, very tough horse. We always felt the blinkers would bring out a hell of a lot of improvement - he's very laid-back.
"He's come out of the race very well. He's a lovely horse and he has scope. His work has been very good since the Guineas - the blinkers have really put him on his A-game."
Mshawish is the only raider from across the Channel and the Mikel Delzangles-trained colt drops back in trip after finishing fourth in the French Derby, beaten four and three-quarter lengths behind the high-class Intello.
The Gallic team have also made the shrewd move of booking Frankie Dettori for the ride.
"He ran well in the Prix du Jockey Club. It looks like he will be better over a mile," said Delzangles. "He is working very well and came out of the race in good form. We have Frankie Dettori on our side as well."