Famous Name to justify top billing for Smullen
The redoubtable Famous Name is the headline act at Leopardstown today as Dermot Weld's stalwart goes in search of his third win in the Trigo Stakes since 2008.
Outside of two defeats in the Group One Champion Stakes, the evergreen seven-year-old is now unbeaten in 11 starts at the Foxrock venue, and will bring his pattern race haul to 20 should he prevail here under the title-chasing Pat Smullen.
With Weld and Smullen having also won the €26,000 prize with Zaminast a year ago, they boast an enviable record in the 10-furlong contest, one that is unlikely to come unstuck now.
Last week's Cork winner Chrysanthemum is among the 10-strong field, but even she has 10lbs to find with Famous Name at the weights.
Weld and Smullen are also fancied to take the opening two juvenile heats with Rasmeyaa and Big Break.
Having made a pleasing debut to be third in Listed company at the Curragh in September, average improvement should make Rasmeyaa hard to beat in the fillies' maiden, while Big Break should have a big say in the featured JRA Killavullan Stakes.
Ballydoyle rely on the ready Curragh winner Magician in this Group Three, but it remains to be seen just what the Galileo colt had to account for on that occasion.
Although Andy Oliver's Navan scorer Dubaya is also respected, it was Big Break, a full-sister to Famous Name, that made the most lasting impression when storming clear for an authoritative victory over course and distance in September.
If she can build on that now, she is the one they will all have to catch.
In the boys' juvenile maiden, the Declan McDonogh-ridden Zand can fulfil the promise of his second at headquarters last month.
The Aga Khan's John Oxx-trained colt flashed home behind Pearl Music that day, form that looks the best on offer now.
However, the horse whose form commands nap billing is Authorization in the concluding 12-furlong handicap.
A Curragh maiden winner in testing ground over 10 furlongs in the summer, James Motherway's three-year-old has run well in two decent handicaps since then, latterly finishing fifth behind Diplomat at Killarney.
With Princeton Plains second, Inis Meain third, Buy Back Bob fourth and I Have A Dream sixth, that was a deeply competitive contest.
Today's 18-runner affair will be no stroll, but, having dropped four pounds, despite twice performing admirably, Authorization might well be in off a favourable mark under Wayne Lordan.
On a low-key jumping spread at Wexford, Noel Meade might collect with both of his runners, Donnas Palm and Thouva. A decent novice last term, Donnas Palm tackles the Casey Precast Chase, having been a ring-rusty third behind Our Victoria at Navan.
He should be sharper now, and Our Victoria did the form no harm by following up at Thurles on Thursday. Thouva is on duty in a relatively weak beginners' chase.
A French bumper winner, the Gigginstown Stud-owned five-year-old wasn't knocked about in two hurdle races last January. He won't need to be one of the owner or trainer's leading lights to land the spoils here under Paul Carberry.