Leather made of right stuff to strike for Bolger
First Cornerstone will this afternoon attempt to do for Andy Oliver what Casamento did for Mick Halford in 2010 by delivering the Tyrone handler a first Group One success in the last top-level Flat race of the season in England at Doncaster.
With St Nicholas Abbey and Camelot having landed the one-mile Racing Post Trophy in sensational style for Ballydoyle in 2009 and 2011 respectively, the three Irish-trained runners on duty in the seven-strong field have the potential to secure an unprecedented fourth win on the spin.
After completing back-to-back victories on heavy ground in the Futurity Stakes over seven furlongs at the Curragh in August, First Cornerstone is stepping up to a mile for a first time here.
In a normal year, he might not have the required quality to be a real contender for the pre-eminent two-year-old Derby trial.
However, this is possibly a weak renewal, so you couldn't discount the prospect of his improving further to at least be in the shake-up under the in-form Chris Hayes, who is also seeking a debut triumph at the highest level.
Richard Hannon's Van Der Neer leads the home defence, but there has been a telling lack of market confidence in the two-time winner all week, with Kingsbarns the horse that has been heavily backed to provide Aidan and Joseph O'Brien with their 10th Group One of the year together.
A half-brother to, among others, Jessica Harrington's dual purpose campaigner Gimli's Rock, the Galileo colt made light work of the opposition on his recent Navan bow.
However, his starting price of 4/11 on the day reflected how poor a maiden that was, so it would be unwise to read too much into his seven-length margin of victory. While Kingsbarns has obvious potential -- and it is significant that he has been nominated as his trainer's sole representative in a race that the stable has won six times -- he doesn't appeal at as low as 6/4.
At the prices and on the merit of previous achievements, the one to keep on side is surely Jim Bolger's Trading Leather at around 5/2.
Surprisingly, for all his remarkable juvenile accomplishments in recent years, the Coolcullen wizard has yet to win this particular event.
That could be about to change, though, as this teak-tough son of Teofilo continues to progress, having been beaten by the classy subsequent two-time scorer Battle Of Marengo in a Listed race on his Leopardstown bow in September.
A runaway winner of a Gowran Park maiden on his next outing, Trading Leather then followed up with a convincing coup in a Newmarket Group Three that was stacked with winners a fortnight ago.
At Newbury, the consistent Harris Tweed can upstage a couple of higher-profile rivals under Ryan Moore in the St Simon Stakes.
Frankel's three-year-old brother Noble Mission may start favourite for the 12-furlong Group Three following his fourth in the Voltigeur at York, with the easy Ascot scorer Hawaafez another boasting strong claims once again.
Still, given that the Classic crop is mediocre and Hawaafez has nothing to spare on ratings, Harris Tweed is preferred. William Haggas' five-year-old has been in good heart, winning over course and distance in April, and emerging as the best horse in the race when beaten a length conceding seven pounds to Retrieve in Listed company at Newmarket recently.
Over jumps, the Aidan Coleman-ridden Hada Men is fancied to have a big say in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow on its debut for Venetia Williams, with Gordon Elliott's Carlito Brigante unlikely to have much trouble justifying short odds in the novice chase at Aintree.
The Paul Nolan-trained Noble Prince makes its return in the Old Roan Chase at the Liverpool track and has obvious claims in favourable conditions, though he might just need the outing in Grade Two company.
For Non Stop, a Grade One-winning novice last term that finished third to Sir Des Champs at Cheltenham in March, strikes as a more solid option under Noel Fehily.
Best Bet: Harris Tweed