The Irish Flat season is now all systems go, and today's card at Leopardstown -- which features the Group Three Ballysax Stakes, the first known Derby trial of the season -- should provide plenty of clues to the strength of our three-year-olds in that category.
The 10-furlong event is a race that Ballydoyle like to target. Galileo won here before going on to Epsom glory in 2001, as did High Chaparral 12 months later, and more recently Fame And Glory took this race before finishing second at Epsom and going on to take the Irish Derby. Aidan O'Brien even sent out four-time Ascot Gold Cup winner Yeats to win this in 2004.
The Co Tipperary handler clearly likes to aim a good horse for this prize and it's no surprise that the unbeaten Recital is a warm order to make a winning start to his three-year-old campaign.
The son of Montjeu is already a Group One winner, as he took a 10-furlong event in Saint Cloud in November by an impressive five lengths. That performance prompted a price as short as 10/1 for the Derby and he looks like the one to beat today.
In an interesting subplot, Ryan Moore makes the journey over to take the ride. This would appear to be the first incident of Ballydoyle's new jockey strategy, of going for the best available man for their big races.
The main challenge to Recital may come from the Jim Bolger-trained Banimpire, which showed a good attitude when finishing third to Lolly For Dolly on the opening day of the season at The Curragh. With the benefit of the fitness edge from that run, and this step up in trip to 10 furlongs, he could well give the favourite something to think about.
Elsewhere, the 117-rated Famous Name will only have to face three other rivals on his reappearance in the listed Heritage Stakes. It should be fairly straightforward for Dermot Weld's horse, which is a proven Group race performer and has won around Leopardstown no fewer than six times.
The two-year-old maiden which opens proceedings was won by subsequent Group One winner Zoffany last season, and Ballydoyle send out Raphael Santi here, which will also be ridden by Moore.
He could face tough opposition from Jim Bolger's Parish Hall, a son of Teofilo, in what looks like a hot maiden.