Lyons poised to break O'Brien stranglehold with Justifier
The recent history of the Group Two Futurity Stakes (7.10) makes for pleasant reading, with two subsequent English 2,000 Guineas winners as well as a future Epsom Derby hero among the stellar roll of honour. The trio were trained by Aidan O'Brien.
Gleneagles (2014), Churchill (2016) and Anthony Van Dyck (2018) have gone on to bigger and better things and O'Brien will be hoping for something similar with Armory a warm-order favourite to land the Ballydoyle maestro a sixth victory in seven years.
Four of those were odds-on shots and O'Brien saddles a quartet of runners in the €130,000 contest at the Curragh this evening, with Armory the stand-out candidate as Ryan Moore makes a swift transfer to the Kildare track after riding Ten Sovereigns in the Nunthorpe at York.
The Galileo colt found the re-opposing Justifier too good when third on debut at Leopardstown in June but has progressed rapidly in the meantime with two victories, the latter of which when coasting home in the Group Three Tyros Stakes.
However, with Ger Lyons' Justifier available at five times his odds, he is the one to side with in terms of value having shown that he can handle soft ground with a pleasing Listed success at Tipperary two weeks ago.
Justifier dominated O'Brien's Harpocrates on that occasion and with the last named going down by a neck in a York Group Three earlier this week, there's no reason to suggest Colin Keane's mount won't be right there at the finish.
O'Brien also makes a four-pronged attack on the Group Two Debutante Stakes (6.40) and while Group Three Silver Flash Stakes winner Love is a clear market leader, this is a competitive affair with plenty of depth.
Jessica Harrington's Alpine Star and Lyon's Soul Search are both closely matched with Love from her Leopardstown maiden win, but the most likely winner may be another Ballydoyle contender. Donnacha O'Brien was very complimentary of Petite Mustique when she broke her duck at Galway and gave the impression that the best was yet to come, so the pair can take the step up in class in style.
Meanwhile, having proclaimed that "he might be hard to beat" before the KWD Kingdom Gold Cup, Davids Charm (2/1 favourite) made good on John Joe Walsh's prediction under Chris Hayes at Killarney yesterday.
Davids Charm hasn't alway enjoyed the rub of the green but the cards fell right for him at the Kerry track and he made no mistake to repel Dermot Weld's Dalton Highway (9/1).
Elsewhere, Mark Walsh scored on his first ride since recovering from a broken leg nearly four months ago when Padraig Roche's Act In Time (9/2 favourite) landed the handicap chase for the second year running.