Declaration Of War is the aptly named horse that may be sent into battle by Aidan O’Brien against Frankel at Ascot this weekend. The Irish trainer has four horses entered in the Champion Stakes but told reporters at The Curragh on Sunday that he was likely to be represented only by the three-year-old colt, who won a Group Three on the all-weather at Dundalk early this month.
Having raced for Jean-Claude Rouget in France last year, when he was unbeaten in two starts, Declaration Of War was acquired by the Coolmore partners over the winter but his first run of the year did not come until last month. He seemed in need of that outing but has won both races since and is something of an unknown quantity.
O’Brien’s team for Champions Day will be headed by Excelebration, the 4-7 favourite for the QEII Stakes. The winner of a French Group One when last seen, he has been beaten only by Frankel in his last seven starts.
The Irishman also expects to send over Was for the fillies and mares race, as well as Fame And Glory for the Long Distance Cup, while Starspangledbanner is a possible for the Sprint. O’Brien still has a chance to be British champion trainer this year if he wins enough prize money on Saturday but he trails John Gosden by almost £500,000.
Mayson will miss the Sprint on Saturday, having failed to recover from a bruised foot he sustained when narrowly beaten in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp on Arc day. The July Cup winner will now retire to Cheveley Park Stud.
“We still haven’t got a shoe on him and unfortunately there’s not a lot left for him now,” said his trainer, Richard Fahey. “He’s been a great horse for us.”
Dawn Approach, the winner of Saturday’s Dewhurst Stakes, was confirmed to be “fine” on Sunday morning by a spokesman for Godolphin, who own the chestnut.
Meanwhile, Marco Botti, trainer of Moohaajim, narrowly beaten in the Middle Park on the same card, predicted he would be better over further and will now aim him at the 2,000 Guineas.
Medermit will miss Aintree’s Old Roan Chase and the Betfair Chase at Haydock after suffering an unspecified setback in training.
“It’s a shame,” said the grey’s trainer, Alan King, through his website, “but Medermit will certainly be out for the first half of this season and we will review the situation again on the run up to Christmas.” Medermit won the Haldon Gold Cup last season and was a close third in the Ryanair at the Cheltenham Festival.