Sans Frontieres to prove class above
The forecast for further heavy showers poses a distinct threat to the likely principals in the twin Group One features at The Curragh this afternoon, where the established stayers as well as some of the season's most promising juveniles take centre stage.
The Irish St Leger's prime fancies, Profound Beauty and England-based Sans Frontieres, would not be helped by any significant ease in the ground at headquarters after a week of broken weather leading up to the final Classics here and at Doncaster.
Under six millimetres of rainfall overnight left the going at the Kildare venue officially good to yielding on the St Leger course.
It is yielding up the straight where the unbeaten pair of supplemented colts Pathfork and Janood throw down the gauntlet to Aidan O'Brien's latest Phoenix Stakes victor, Zoffany, in the Boylesports Vincent O'Brien National Stakes, which has been proving a reliable guide to future success at the highest level.
A year ago an even wetter scenario for the Irish St Leger resulted in Profound Beauty getting bogged down before Alandi emerged best, thanks to the expert assistance of Michael Kinane, whose weekend exhibition of memorabilia should be well worth a visit by Curragh patrons.
Given the go-ahead on Thursday -- instead of Ascot Gold Cup hero Rite Of Passage -- to bid for compensation now, Profound Beauty remains vulnerable, weather-wise and indeed on form as she was unable to cope with John Dunlop's Tactic in the Curragh Cup over this route in late June.
Bolstering the older brigade in a race that's tended to favour them are a rejuvenated Sans Frontieres and last year's English St Leger runner-up Kite Wood -- which both accompany Tactic on the trip from England -- along with Charlie Swan's supplemented star Rajik and former Japanese ace Pop Rock.
Hat-trick seeker Flying Cross and Darley Irish Oaks third Lady Lupus are left to fly the flag for the younger generation from Ballydoyle with their more exalted stable companions Midas Touch and Joshua Tree heading to Doncaster instead in search of significant pickings.
While it could be unwise to write off Flying Cross, the balance of power should rest today with his more senior opponents and, unless the heavens open, personal preference is for Sans Frontieres to make a smooth transition to Group One company.
Jeremy Noseda's charge had fellow Galileo progeny Kite Wood among his victims last month over a slightly shorter trip in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury, following which his connections decided to target the Curragh Classic.
Fellow raiders Kite Wood and Tactic tend to take a keen hold, which may not be ideal in the circumstances, so it would be no surprise to see the ever-improving Rajik and Flying Cross emerging as greater threats to Sans Frontieres and Profound Beauty.
The preceding National Stakes once more features a mob-handed challenge from Ballydoyle, spearheaded by Zoffany, which flashed up late in the day to deny Jim Bolger's Glor Na Mara and a wilting Strong Suit in the Phoenix Stakes spoils over a month ago.
Nailed close to home here again since, by outsider Dingle View, classy maiden Glor Na Mara was therefore unable to boost the Phoenix Stakes form which may have persuaded the connections of Pathfork and Janood to spend €20,000 apiece to test Zoffany over an extra furlong now.
Godolphin's Janood was obliged to work to overcome Slim Shadey in a Listed affair at Newbury, whereas American-bred Pathfork was better value for his Futurity Stakes dismissal of Glor Na Mara over the course and distance three weeks ago.
Strictly on their form with the Bolger colt, the advantage this afternoon should rest with Pathfork over Zoffany, but the latter only got going in earnest in the closing stages of the Phoenix Stakes and might manage to retain his unbeaten record on Irish soil.
A staying-on fourth to Dingle View and Glor Na Mara at Group Three level, Zoffany's equally busy stable-mate Emperor Hadrian could get back on the winning trail when dropped in class for the Blenheim Stakes at the expense, mainly, of Longhunter in the Pathfork colours.
Nina Carberry can emerge best from the inaugural running of the Amateur Derby aboard Noel Meade's versatile course winner Fisher Bridge.