Beethoven can call tune under O'Brien
Last year's shock Dewhurst Stakes victor Beethoven attempts to belatedly open his seasonal account as the likely hot favourite for the featured Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown this evening, when Tramore also host the initial session of its four-day summer festival.
Champion trainer Aidan O'Brien's teenage son Joseph has partnered the classy Oratorio colt in his Royal Ascot and Goodwood races behind Irish-bred star miler Canford Cliffs and will be hoping tonight's drop in class from the highest level works a treat for them.
A mile on a lively surface would look the ideal scenario for Joseph's home-bred mount, which won his maiden at the Dublin track just over a year ago and sports blinkers for the first time when resuming here as top-rated of the five runners on their official marks.
Next best ratings-wise, just 3lb adrift on 114, is Jim Bolger's much busier filly Akdarena, which has contested both the English and Irish Oaks without much reward since routing her rivals in the Blue Wind Stakes over a mile and a quarter at Naas in another Group Three affair.
However, the Bolger candidate has yet to prove that a mile ideally suits her trail-blazing style of running and Kevin Manning's mount could be vulnerable in the closing stages to Beethoven and Emulous rather than veteran 2006 scorer King Jock and smart handicapper Dandy Boy.
It will be something of a surprise should Beethoven, which started at odds of 50/1 and 25/1 on his previous outings this term, fail to prevail.
With his claim now reduced to 5lb, notwithstanding demotion on appeal at the Turf Club on Tuesday of his controversial Galway 'winner' Luttrell Lady, young O'Brien is rapidly making his presence felt race-riding at all levels.
He could get off to a flier this evening if acute Ballybrit disappointment Why reverses what could prove to be a misleading form line with Pat Fahy's Ballybacka Lady in the opening Tattersalls Ireland Fillies Maiden.
The latter belied odds of 50/1 for Danny Mullins when beating all except Zaminast at that festival fixture where Why, starting odds-on to confirm the rich promise of her Curragh debut fourth, seemed ill at ease throughout.
While the plum inside draw on this occasion will be a comfort also to the free-going Ballybacka Lady's connections, it's quite possible that O'Brien's Galileo filly will make a bold bid to compensate fully for that hapless Galway experience, before the wraps come off stable companion Eagle Canyon half an hour later in the male equivalent.
Kevin Prendergast's Blue Cannon, which progressed notably from his initial outing when staying on for third money behind Music In The Rain and Emerald Forest at Naas three weeks ago, looks the pick of those with public form. Dropping back a furlong this time might militate against his chances of making it third time lucky, though, and Eagle Canyon, with in-form Johnny Murtagh at the helm is preferred.
The Sharon Shannon Big Band, featuring Shane McGowan, which entertains patrons after this final meeting of the Bulmers series, lends its name to a trappy opening leg of the Jackpot and it might be wise to row in with Fahy's consistent Galway runner-up Dinah Doll.
Next up is the Racing Rocks at Leopardstown Handicap and this event is best left again to Strandfield Lady from the Harry Rogers yard as she's been in unbeatable mode this summer under Daryl Byrne, with three wins that have exalted her rating from 60 to 79.
Down at Tramore, neither his welter burden nor the much shorter distance of the Irish Racegoers Club Handicap Hurdle may prevent Cybersnow from following up Sunday's facile Downpatrick success for rookie Letterkenny trainer Emmet Butterly under a mandatory 6lb penalty.
Before that initial jackpot race, Eoin Doyle and John O'Shea can boost their commendable strike-rates as Galway victor Days Ahead makes his jumping debut in the Tote-backed maiden hurdle and then Gudnis Gracious Me attempts a hat-trick for owner Eddie Donegan in a more competitive Beamish Stout Hurdle against Gordon Elliott's Perth scorer Wikaala, in particular.