'High-class' Rules underlines Ascot Gold Cup credentials
Forgotten Rules boosted his claims for the Ascot Gold Cup when preserving his 100pc record in pleasing style in the Coolmore Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan.
Dermot Weld's ante-post favourite for next month's two-and-a-half mile Group One passed a stern test posed by Answered on his first start for 211 days.
The two fought out a stirring finish to the Group Three contest over a mile and three-quarters after Sir Ector and Panama Hat had set the pace.
Forgotten Rules showed all the right qualities for a top stayer as the 8/11 favourite held his race-fit rival by a length and a quarter under Pat Smullen. The two principals pulled well clear of Sir Ector in third.
Forgotten Rules was trimmed to 2/1 favourite from threes for the Gold Cup by Paddy Power.
However, Weld would not want the ground to be too fast at Ascot for the lightly-raced five-year-old.
"I was very pleased with the performance and thought it was an excellent renewal of the race," said the master of Rosewell House.
"Two very brave and high class stayers fought it out - not taking anything away from the second as he's a very good horse. He had the benefit of a run and was getting 5lb so I thought it was an excellent performance by Forgotten Rules on his first run back.
"I'm pleased with the way he handled the drying ground and it augurs well for his future.
"The obvious logical next step is the Ascot Gold Cup and the only caveat I would have is that he would never want the ground too firm."
Toscanini (9/10 favourite) was another to put himself in line for Royal Ascot when making a winning return after a 245-day absence in the opening Brews Hill Race. Runner-up to Gleneagles in the Group One National Stakes at the Curragh in September, Michael Halford's colt held Ainippe by a head under Shane Foley.
"I'm happy with that," said Halford. "He travelled well but wasn't doing a whole lot in front. He'll go to Naas (on June 1) and then Ascot.
"He was only ready to start and I'm very happy. Shane said he had a good blow at the furlong pole and was just doing enough from there.
"He's in the Jersey. He hasn't got any slower over the winter. We'll keep our options open and see what happens."
Joseph O'Brien feels Ivanovich Gorbatov (9/2), trained by his father Aidan, could be the type for the Queen's Vase at the Royal meeting after the Montjeu colt opened his account in the maiden over 13 furlongs.
"He quickened up nicely but was a bit green," said the jockey. "They went a good gallop and the race worked out for him. He could be one for the Queen's Vase."
The O'Briens then doubled up with Derby entry Jinsha Lake (11/8 favourite), which took the Pour Moi EBF Maiden over a mile.
David Wachman's Auld Enemy made an impressive debut when leading all the way in the five-furlong maiden for two-year-olds. The 13/2 son of Fastnet Rock was soon in command under Wayne Lordan and went on to score by a length and a half from Black Beach.
"He's a grand colt. He had a good draw and was reasonably professional," said Wachman. "He wants further."
Wachman and Lordan completed a double when Curvy (15/8 favourite) followed up last month's course and distance success in the fillies handicap over ten furlongs.
"She's a nice filly - she'll run in stakes races now. She's got a good pedigree so it's important to get some black-type," said Wachman.
Joe Eile (10/1) made the most of his rail draw to come out on top in five-furlong handicap.
Making light of 295 days off the track, the Ger Lyons-trained seven-year-old battled on well for Colin Keane's urgings to beat In Salutem by half a length.
"He had been working well at home but I thought he might come on for it and that maybe the five here might be a bit sharp for him. Hopefully he'll be a good sprinter this year," said Lyons.