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Southern France may sidestep Gold Cup in favour of Hardwicke Stakes bid

Southern France, runner-up to Stradivarius in the Yorkshire Cup on Friday and an 8-1 chance for the Gold Cup, could drop in distance and run instead in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot next month.

Speaking on Sunday, Aidan O'Brien said: "We haven't yet made a plan for Southern France but it's quite possible we might aim for the Hardwicke rather than the Gold Cup. He ran a very good race at York and showed more pace then we thought he had."

O'Brien, who said Western Australia would head for the Queen's Vase, has not lost faith in Capri despite his defeat at Leopardstown when he started favourite for the Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes.

"He's now five and it's taking more time to get him right. We'll continue to train him for the Gold Cup which has always been the plan."

The trainer reported Magna Grecia was on course for the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas on Saturday when he will attempt to become the fifth O'Brien colt to complete the Newmarket-Curragh Guineas double, following Rock Of Gibraltar (2002), Henrythenavigator (2008), Gleneagles (2015) and Churchill (2017).

"Magna Grecia is in good form and all has gone well with him since Newmarket. We'll probably run a few others in the race as well," he said.

Dermot Weld confirmed he would be represented in the Curragh Classic by the Aga Khan-owned Shelir, winner of both his starts and successful in the Listed Tetrarch Stakes at the Curragh early this month.

He said: "Shelir came out of the Tetrarch Stakes well. He's a smart colt and deserves to take his chance."

Newmarket 1,000 Guineas winner Hermosa, Happen and Just Wonderful will represent Ballydoyle for the Irish 1,000 Guineas on Sunday.

O'Brien said: "Fleeting might also be on our team, although we might keep her for the Investec Oaks, while Fairyland is still a possible runner, although we might revert to sprinting with her."

O'Brien said Magical, winner of the Alleged Stakes and the Mooresbridge Stakes on her two starts this year, would revert to Group 1 company in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh on Sunday.

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