Dunlop's Red Cadeaux can prove a class above rivals
In a Flat campaign that has been defined as much by its endless variety as any outstanding or persistent manifestation of superiority, the last two Irish Group Ones of 2013 take on some rare intrigue at the Curragh tomorrow.
Up to now, 10 different trainers have enjoyed success in the domestic top-level events, something that hasn't happened since Ballydoyle's 2004 annus horribilis, when Dermot Weld was the sole handler to win two. Tomorrow only Aidan O'Brien, Jim Bolger and David Wachman have the opportunity to match or better that figure.
Wachman, who is to walk the Doncaster track this morning before deciding whether to run Galileo Rock in today's Ladbrokes St Leger or tomorrow's Gain-sponsored Irish equivalent, is fancied as the more likely to do so with Sudirman in the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes.
Of course, Galileo Rock would lend added interest to the feature event – worth a not insignificant €200,000 – were he to run, but the only three-year-old to win the mile-and-six-furlong Group One since 1990 is the legendary four-time victor Vinnie Roe.
As such, Wayne Lordan's mount could be up against it. Johnny Murtagh's Royal Diamond, a game winner here in 2012, and O'Brien's Ernest Hemingway are due to lock horns for a fourth time this term in the 11-runner affair.
If Ernest Hemingway was to prevail, there would be an inevitable sense of normal service being resumed ahead of the National Stakes. However, one or two of the remainder may have a touch too much for the Joseph O'Brien-ridden contender.
Godolphin's Ahzeemah – recent conqueror of the Ascot Gold Cup runner-up Simenon at York – must enter calculations, a comment that also applies to Dermot Weld's pair of four-year-old fillies Pale Mimosa and Voleuse De Coeurs.
Certerach, second to Ahzeemah when last seen in Dubai in March, has an outside chance of atoning for Mick Halford's agonising near-miss 12 months ago with Massiyn.
The one that appeals most, though, is Ed Dunlop's much-travelled veteran Red Cadeaux. Just nosed out by Dunaden in a thrilling finish to the 2011 Melbourne Cup, the seven-year-old holds his own in the highest echelon and found only the high-class Animal Kingdom too strong in the Dubai World Cup.
In the context of tomorrow's race, that form is exemplary, while his second to Royal Empire when conceding weight at Newbury last time constituted a return to form.
The winner narrowly failed to complete his hat-trick subsequently, and the fourth, Genzy, likewise found just one too good in the Ebor. Lost In The Moment, which finished third, has since come out and won a Group Two in Turkey. That is tip-top form, so Red Cadeaux warrants the nap vote to score here under his peerless French rider Gerald Mosse.
Just seven have been declared for the National Stakes, and Sudirman looks to have a fine chance to follow up his Phoenix win. O'Brien's two main hopes are last week's impressive Dundalk debut winner Giovanni Boldini and the Gimcrack runner-up Wilshire Boulevard, with Richard Hannon sending over the unbeaten Goodwood Group Two winner Toormore.
Still, given the way that War Command has since franked the Phoenix form, Sudirman sets a tall standard in this under the always reliable Wayne Lordan.
The Rosegreen juggernaut can score courtesy of Dazzling and Darwin. On the back of an impressive debut course triumph, Dazzling, a full-sister to the 2011 Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Roderic O'Connor, is difficult to oppose in the Listed juvenile contest for fillies over a mile.
Darwin may face a sterner test in the Solonaway Stakes, but is still the standout option in the mile Group Three. Since arriving from America, the Big Brown three-year-old has evolved into one of the elite stable's leading three-year-olds, so it will be disappointing if he doesn't see off 10 less precocious rivals to complete his hat-trick.