Trainer Aidan O’Brien has dominated the 2016 flat season and is already assured of winning the trainer’s title a month early after racking up £5.7 million in prize money. But he could be set for.
<p>Trainer Aidan O’Brien has dominated the 2016 flat season and is already assured of winning the trainer’s title a month early after racking up £5.7 million in prize money. But he could be set for his biggest weekend yet as he trains the favourite in the Group 1 races: the €1.1 million Irish Champion Stakes, the €350,000 Irish St Leger and the £700,000 English St Leger at Doncaster. All three are heavy favourites and if they are successful O’Brien will cement his status as the greatest in the business.</p><p>The toughest one to win will be the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, which is gearing up to be the race of the year as it features no fewer than nine Group 1 winners. That has never happened in Ireland before and it has been billed as the biggest race in the country’s history. Minding was outright favourite but has gone out to 3/1 and is now joint favourite with Harzand. It is shaping up to be an epic duel between these two, and the money is currently going with Harzand. He won the Investec Derby and the Irish Derby and is unbeaten all year, while Minding has won the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks along with three other Group 1 victories this year. They are pretty much the two best horses of the year, but it is the first time Minding, a filly, has raced males and she will be severely tested so Harzand might just have a slight edge, although it should be very close indeed.</p><p>If you don’t fancy getting involved in that you might be tempted to go each way on a longer shot, and there are plenty of appealing options. Two more O’Brien charges look to have a great chance: Found (11/1 with Bet Victor) and Highland Reel (<a href="http://www.sportsbookreview.com/Sportsbook/?v=4835&book=Betvictor">14/1 with Bet Victor</a>). Highland Reel won the King George and is a great horse, while Found finished ahead of him in this race last year. One horse to watch is Hawkbill (16/1), who won The Eclipse and looks a brilliant each way bet.</p><p>The Irish Leger looks a bit more straightforward. There are just six horses contesting it, half of them trained by O’Brien, and his star charge Order of St George heads the betting at a <a href="http://www.sportsbookreview.com/Sportsbook/?v=4810&book=Bet365">very low 1/4 with Bet365</a>. He is on a six race unbeaten streak and it looks difficult to oppose him as he is the highest rated horse in Ireland. He can show his class with a win here. If you want a favourite with a more attractive price, check out another O’Brien horse running at Leopardstown, US Army Ranger, who is 6/5 favourite. He finished second in The Derby, behind Harzand but ahead of Idaho, and is a very strong horse indeed, arguably too strong for this Group 3 race and that is an attractive price.</p><p>Over in Doncaster we have a slightly underwhelming St Leger this year compared to the strength of the Irish Champion Stakes. Idaho heads the betting and deservedly so after a strong season. He has thrice been beaten by Harzand but placed behind him in both the Investec and Irish Derbies. He won the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York with ease last month, ahead of stablemate Housesofparliament, who also competes in the St Leger, and that is traditionally seen as the best trial for the St Leger. The only doubt lies in Idaho’s stamina as the extra two furlongs at Doncaster may catch him out, and that could leave the door open for Housesofparliament to win it for O’Brien instead. Housesofparliament looks a good each way bet at <a href="http://www.sportsbookreview.com/Sportsbook/?v=4834&book=Paddypower">10/1 with Paddy Powe</a>r. Earlier in the day at Doncaster Red Pike (16/1) has a good each way chance in the Ladbrokes Portland Handicap as he won over trip and course last year and his trainer is in form.</p>