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Irish Classic clean sweep would be "massive"

AIDAN O'BRIEN on Thursday said thatit would be "massive" for the whole team at Ballydoyle if he were to become the first trainer since 1935 to win all five Irish Classics in a season.

Ten horses were declared on Thursday for Saturday's Irish Field St Leger, including four from Ballydoyle as O'Brien bids to emulate Jack Rogers, who achieved the Grand Slam 73 years ago.

Ante-post favourite Septimus will be ridden by Seamie Heffernan, with stable jockey Johnny Murtagh travelling to Doncaster to partner Frozen Fire in the St Leger. O'Brien is likely to have three runners, after all but ruling out the prospects of last year's winner, Yeats, lining up along with Septimus, Mikhail Fokine (Sean Levey) and New Zealand (Pat Smullen).

"Yeats is declared but is unlikely to run. He would run only if Septimus, for any reason, was unable to run," said O'Brien, who won this race for the first time 12 months ago.

Victory in Ireland's final Classic would make another slice of history for O'Brien, something he saysusually does not enter his thoughts beforehand.

"We never really think about such things leading up to a big race," he said. "It is always the race and the horse, or horses, that we concentrate on.

"But it would be massive for us if it happens and the whole team here at Ballydoyle would get a great sense of achievement from it, if everything works out for us on Saturday."

Heffernan has a 100 per cent record from two previous rides on Septimus, who is generally quoted at 1-2 for Saturday's Classic.                                                                                          

Cashmans, who quoted O'Brien at 5-2 to complete the Grand Slam prior to his Irish Oaks victory with Moonstone, on Saturday cut the Ballydoyle trainer to 4-9 to reach the landmark.

Henrythenavigator in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, Halfway To Heaven in the Irish 1,000Guineas and Frozen Fire in the Irish Derby are O'Brien's other Classic winners in Ireland this season.

Kevin Prendergast, who has won the Irish St Leger four times, will be represented tomorrow by IrishChampion Stakes third Mores Wells and Red Moloney, winner of the Ballycullen Stakes over course and distance last year.

Prendergast had back-to-back victories in the race with Oscar Schindler in 1996 and 1997, having earlier wonin 1972 with Pidget and in 1973 with Conor Pass.

This season's Ballycullen Stakes winner Hasanka represents John Oxx, who won the race two years ago when Kastoria defeated 2-7 chance Yeats.

The Curragh trainer will be seeking his fourth win in the race, having also been victorious with Eurobird in 1987 and Petite Ile two years later.

The sole British raider is Jane Chapple-Hyam's Yellowstone.

 
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