Fame And Glory warms up for Ascot with Leopardstown run
Fame And Glory will have his final start ahead of a tilt at next month's Ascot Gold Cup in the 14-furlong Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Such is the strength of Aidan O'Brien's equine team at Ballydoyle this year that the decision was made at the season's outset to explore the possibility of a 'Cup' campaign for the 2009 Irish Derby winner. The training arm of the Coolmore conglomerate would rarely have contemplated such a strategy in the past for a valuable stallion prospect that has already won Group Ones over 10 and 11 furlongs.
Needs must, however. As was confirmed by So You Think's effortless rout in the Tattersalls Gold Cup on Sunday -- a race that Fame And Glory annexed in 2010 and which formed the middle leg of a Group One treble for O'Brien at The Curragh over the weekend -- top-class middle distance prospects are in plentiful supply in Rosegreen.
Aside from the versatile Australian import So You Think, O'Brien has last year's Irish Derby and Champion Stakes victor Cape Blanco to go to war with between 10 and 12 furlongs, as well as the rejuvenated St Nicholas Abbey. Hence, Fame And Glory will seek to fill the void left by the four-time Ascot Gold Cup hero Yeats.
Facing the five-year-old on Sunday will be Rite Of Passage, winner of the two-and-a-half-mile Group One at Royal Ascot in 2010. Dermot Weld's son of Giant's Causeway has not raced since denying the O'Brien-trained Age Of Aquarius after a brilliant tussle last June, so the €47,500 Listed event promises to be an informative taster.
There were 10 other entries revealed for the Leopardstown race yesterday, including Gordon Elliott's Ebor winner Dirar. At the moment, Fame And Glory shades favouritism for the Gold Cup at Ascot, a point shorter than Rite Of Passage at 4/1.
Another Ballydoyle market leader for the royal meeting is the juvenile Power. That one's odds for the Coventry Stakes have continued to tumble since he prevailed in the Marble Hill Stakes on Saturday, to the point that he is now as low as 7/2, having been available at 6/1 soon after his game short-head verdict over Tough As Nails.
Zoffany, successful at Group One level as a juvenile for O'Brien last year in the Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh, is pencilled in to make his seasonal reappearance in Sunday's Group Three Ballycorus Stakes. The trainer's wife Anne Marie has tweeted in recent days that Zoffany is an intended runner at Leopardstown.
She also confirmed on the same website yesterday that Jan Vermeer, fourth in last year's Epsom Derby, would make his first start of 2011 at Sandown tomorrow, and that Master Of Hounds' next target would be the Belmont Stakes on June 11.