It is poised to be a huge weekend for owners Amo Racing as their high-class colts King Of Steel and Bucanero Fuerte fly the flag at the Irish Champions Festival.
The purple silks of Kia Joorabchian’s racing operation have become a regular sight in some of the calendar’s biggest races and will be front and centre at both Leopardstown and the Curragh respectively during a top-class weekend of racing in Ireland.
It is the Roger Varian’s King Of Steel who gets the first shot at glory and the Royal Ascot winner, who has made the podium in both the Derby at Epsom and the King George, finds himself at the top of the market for Saturday’s Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes in Dublin.
“It’s a very exciting time of the year and to be going to the Irish Champions Festival with two live contenders in two Group Ones is what we’ve been striving for over the last 18 months,” said Tom Pennington, racing and operations manager for the owners.
“It’s a culmination of real hard work from everyone involved, we’re excited and I know the boss is really looking forward to it.”
Having enjoyed his finest moments up at a mile and a half, the son of Wootton Bassett will be dropping back to 10 furlongs at Leopardstown.
But connections are confident King Of Steel has all the attributes to thrive in his latest assignment.
“We’ve been looking for an option to drop King Of Steel back to 10 furlongs all year, but so far it has just not presented itself and we’re very much looking forward to it,” continued Pennington.
“There’s no such thing as an easy Group One, but we’ve been waiting for this race to present itself.
“The horse is in great form, I saw him at the weekend and he did a routine piece of work and did it very nicely and let’s hope he gets there in one piece now.”
Bucanero Fuerte will always hold a special place in Amo Racing folklore having provided the owners with a first Group One success when winning the Phoenix Stakes last month.
Also sired by Wootton Bassett, it was the youngster’s second successive Group-level victory having also finished third in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot before that.
Now Adrian Murray’s talented youngster will attempt to extend his winning thread as he steps up to seven furlongs for the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.
Pennington said: “He has always been a strong stayer at six furlongs and looks as if he’s been crying out for seven. His last furlong has been his best in his last in his last couple of races.
“At the beginning of the season he was a big frame of a horse with an engine, now he is really maturing into the horse we hoped he would.”
If Bucanero Fuerte is to add another big-race victory he will have to lower the colours of Aidan O’Brien’s City Of Troy, who is currently odds-on at the head of the betting.
The imposing son of Justify made it two from two in imperious style in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket – and connections of Bucanero Fuerte are under no illusion they have a mammoth task on their hands.
“Bucanero Fuerte does like to get his toe in, but we wouldn’t be overly concerned stepping up to seven – the one concern we do have is obviously City Of Troy,” added Pennington.
“You can’t be frightened of one horse, but what he did at Newmarket, to the eye, was visually impressive.
“We know he will take a lot of beating, but we think we’re going there with a live chance.”