Point Lonsdale aims to extend the perfect start to his career to five races in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.
Favourite for next year’s 2000 Guineas and Derby, Point Lonsdale won the Chesham at Royal Ascot, beating Reach For The Moon, and has handled each subsequent rise in grade with aplomb.
He won a Leopardstown Group Three by three lengths and a Curragh Group Two by four and a quarter, but undoubtedly faces his stiffest test to date.
“He’s done everything he’s been asked so far and seems to be in good form since his last run,” said trainer Aidan O’Brien.
“We’ve just taken gradual steps with him and he’s been coming along gradually.
“We’ve been happy with him since the last day.”
One of his rivals is already a Group One winner, however. Hugo Palmer’s Ebro River had run solid races in England through the summer but journeyed to Ireland to win the Phoenix Stakes and is attempting to complete a double last achieved by Air Force Blue in 2015.
“He’s in good form and we’ll see how he gets on,” said Palmer.
“He’s stepping up to seven furlongs. I think he’d have won the last day over seven, but he’s taking on different horses this time.
“I think it will be nice, good ground by the sounds of it.”
Colin Keane rides Duke De Sessa for Dermot Weld, who has made no secret of the regard in which he holds the colt.
“We think he’s a very nice horse, we thought a lot of him going to Galway,” said Keane.
“I thought in Galway the only thing that might beat him was the track and that it was his first time out, to be honest, and it turns out it did.
“He rectified that at the Curragh the last day and showed us what he’s being showing us at home. We think he’s pretty smart all right.”
Charlie Appleby has sent Quorto and Pinatubo to win in the last three years and this time relies on Native Trail, winner of the Superlative Stakes last time out.
In the fillies’ equivalent, the Moyglare Stud Stakes, the sponsors are aiming to win the prize for the first time with Homeless Songs.
Fiona Craig, of Moyglare Stud, said: “She looks amazing. She’s only run the once as Dermot chose not to go for the Debutante, just because he felt she didn’t need a tough race three weeks beforehand.
“I think she’s been training very well – the lads seem very happy with her.
“It’s a very competitive Moyglare with some very good fillies there, but I’m sure she’ll run a good race.
“It’s quite exciting. We’ve been second and fourth, but we’ve never won it before.
“It would be a bit of a dream to win it.”
Another star on show is O’Brien’s multiple Group One winner Love, who drops in class for the Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes.
She returned to action this season by winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes but has been beaten in the King George and Juddmonte International since.
“Things just haven’t quite gone to plan since Royal Ascot, the pace of the races weren’t ideal but she’s been in good form since the last day,” said O’Brien.
While she faces some smart fillies like La Petite Coco and Thundering Nights, it is nothing like the challenges she has come up against recently against Adayar and Mishriff.