King Of Aragon can step up to break O'Brien's duck for season
King Of Aragon is napped to belatedly get Joseph O'Brien off the mark for the new campaign at Gowran Park this afternoon.
The son of Montjeu is a full brother to last year's Grand Prix de Paris hero Gallante. On his sole outing as a juvenile, he had a sighter at Navan in October, starting a little sluggishly over a mile before keeping on at one pace to be beaten 10 lengths.
If that's as good as King Of Aragon is, he might not be up to much, but more is expected of him now that he steps up to a mile-and-a-half in today's maiden.
Jim Bolger's Deontas, Ger Lyons' Azzuri and Dermot Weld's Edelpour are among those in opposition with potential, but King Of Aragon is bred to be smart, so he is trusted to shape with more menace than he did in the autumn.
The real treat for those making the journey to the Kilkenny venue will be the opportunity to witness Weld's Cheltenham hero Windsor Park on duty in the concluding conditions race over a mile and six furlongs.
In two previous starts on the level last autumn, the former Coolmore-owned Galileo six-year-old hacked up in a 12-furlong maiden here and trounced the opposition in a similar event to this at Galway.
Amazingly, it took Windsor Park four goes to win a bumper, but he has clearly matured into a serious animal.
The likes of Domination, Shu Lewis and Dark Crusader have it within their lockers to give him a race, but the suspicion is that Pat Smullen's mount will win as he likes.
The same in-form duo might also have a big say in the earlier maidens with Joailliere and Serefeli, while Cape Wolfe is fancied to deliver Lyons his first win of the year on turf.
Top-weighted in the seven-furlong handicap, Cape Wolfe ran well on unsuitably deep ground at the Curragh last month.
He is a pound lower here and drops considerably in class, so he should have a big say under Colin Keane on ground that is forecast to ride no worse than yielding.
Last year's excellent champion apprentice Keane might also help Pat Flynn break his duck for the campaign when he partners Knights Templar in the extended nine-furlong handicap.
This 17-runner contest is wide-open, but Knights Templar has plummeted to a mark of 57, having last won off 66 in 2013.
He wasn't helped by soft ground towards the end of last year, so he will be much happier back on a sounder surface and he is drawn nicely in stall three.
On its handicap bow, Whippers Dream may be among the threats.