Weld and Smullen could upstage Ballydoyle's elite firm
Ryan Moore is back on duty on this side of the Irish Sea tomorrow, when he flies in to ride at Navan for a first time.
The inscrutable former champion is such an influential force that, when his participation on five Aidan O'Brien-trained mounts was finally confirmed yesterday afternoon, the temptation was to revise our selections.
They say you should never change your mind, though, so it is with a lesser degree of conviction that we propose that Dermot Weld and the similarly brilliant Pat Smullen might upstage the Ballydoyle firm.
Presumably, the main reasons for Moore's foray are Best In The World and The Gurkha. Best In The World is a product of a Galileo and Red Evie mating, so she is bred to be high-class, and she ground out a narrow Listed win for Moore at the Curragh in the autumn.
That was a fair effort for a maiden on her second start, although it wasn't the best race of its kind. Nonetheless, she has the potential to improve, and she is in all the fillies' Classics.
Weld's Emergent is only in the Irish Oaks at this stage. She might ultimately prove less precocious, but there was an awful lot to like about the way in which she won on her bow here in October. The daughter of Oasis Dream travelled sumptuously and showed a telling turn of foot to score.
Again, it was only a middling race, but she looked as though she might have a bright future, so, in receipt of 3lb now, she appeals as a viable option, with Patrick Prendergast's recent Group Three winner Queen Blossom among the others of interest.
The Gurkha tackles 11 others in the mile maiden, having run with plenty promise when third to stablemate Claudio Monteverdi at Leopardstown earlier in the month.
Chances are he will be sharper now, but Weld's Aasheq should be winning this if US Army Ranger's place at the head of the Derby betting is justified.
When the duo clashed on their respective debuts at the Curragh on April 3, the highly-rated US Army Ranger got the better of Aasheq by just half a length, the pair drawing clear of the rest. A son of Dubawi, Aasheq is a fair prospect, so he appeals as nap material to foil The Gurkha.
Weld and Smullen might also take the fillies' maiden with Creme De La, while Joailliere is fancied to cause a minor upset in the Heritage Stakes that has been transferred from Cork's abandoned fixture.
O'Brien will hardly depart empty-handed. He and Moore are tipped to take the juvenile fillies' maiden with the regally-bred Cuff, and his son Donnacha could steer Ineffable to another victory in the 10-furlong handicap.
The Fastnet Rock colt has been on an upward curve of late, so he can score for a third time in four starts in what isn't a particularly deep contest.