Forgotten ready to rule for Weld in Vintage Crop feature
Forgotten Rules can reaffirm the status of Navan's Vintage Crop Stakes as the preeminent Gold Cup trial by making a winning reappearance under Pat Smullen in tomorrow's Group Three.
In four of the last eight years, the winner of the €65,000 contest has gone on to triumph at Royal Ascot. The three horses responsible - Yeats, Fame And Glory and Leading Light - were all trained by Aidan O'Brien, whose Kingfisher is hard to gauge here.
Runner-up to Australia in the Irish Derby last year when he was largely deployed as a pacemaker after winning Chester's Dee Stakes, Kingfisher could develop into a useful stayer. However, this is a pretty stern assignment.
Apart from Forgotten Rules, Jim Bolger's smart Limerick winner Answered is among the eight-strong field, as is Biographer, which represents Tipperary-born Lambourn handler David Lanigan. On its latest start, Biographer nabbed Pallasator for second behind Forgotten Rules in the stayers' Group Two on Ascot's Champions Day.
It's unlikely that he will turn that form around now. As the race title reminds us, there are few better trainers of a Flat stayer than Weld, and Forgotten Rules has justifiably headed the market for next month's Ascot Group One ever since his striking performance there in October.
The Nayef five-year-old is a deeply exciting prospect. On his bumper debut at the Punchestown Festival last year, he skated up under Robbie McNamara, and he was no less impressive on turning his attentions to the Flat under Pat Smullen at Galway. He then moved onto Ascot, where he was entitled to need the experience on deep ground against far more practised rivals.
On the contrary, though, he taught them all a lesson, overcoming a rare Smullen lapse in discipline early in the straight to stamp his authority all over the race.
It was an emphatic declaration of Forgotten Rules' potential, so it will be massively disappointing if he doesn't reiterate as much now. Earlier on the card, Toscanini represents an altogether different brand of promise.
A cracking juvenile that chased home Gleneagles in the Curragh's National Stakes in September, Mick Halford's Shamardal colt reappears in the five-furlong conditions race.
It will be no pushover, but he should collect under the in-form Shane Foley.
Ainippe, Beach Belle and Father Frost are among some useful rivals. O'Brien's Father Frost, in particular, could be anything, as he knuckled down gamely to get up on his recent track bow over seven furlongs at Cork.
On that occasion, the Rip Van Winkle colt needed every step of the trip, so this drop back to an extended five might not play to his strengths. It is also the first time that Toscanini has run over the minimum distance, but the Godolphin colt was precocious enough in six starts last year to suggest that it might suit.
O'Brien's Fastnet Rock juvenile Stone Mountain should appreciate dropping to five in the maiden that follows, while the stable's Jinsha Lake is of note in the mile equivalent, as he had Giovanni Canaletto behind when second here on his autumn debut.
The nap vote falls to In Salutem, which represents the insatiable Ken Condon in the five-furlong handicap. Billy Lee's mount won over this course and distance on soft ground in November, and he has been performing well enough of late to suggest that he will again be a major player in what is admittedly a competitive affair.
Over jumps at Limerick, Eddie Harty's Minella Foru is of note in the beginners' chase. Mark Walsh's mount has mixed it at a high level over fences so far and this is a drop in class.