Recent events at The Curragh offered a timely reminder of how cautiously a long odds-on Fame And Glory should be viewed at Navan tomorrow.
Essentially, Ballydoyle's policy of priming older horses for specific targets renders them vulnerable on days of lesser significance, so much so that Yeats and Fame And Glory each suffered defeats to inferior rivals in recent years before showing their true colours on the big stage. At headquarters recently, despite Joseph O'Brien's seemingly injudicious ride on St Nicholas Abbey, the stewards of the day didn't appear to have any problem with it.
Thus, forewarned is forearmed, so it might be prudent to look for an alternative to last year's Ascot Gold Cup hero for now. A five-time Group One winner, the 2009 Irish Derby victor is rated 17lb or more superior to tomorrow's six rivals, and he was ready enough to successfully get his campaign under way here 12 months ago.
On that occasion, however, he didn't face nearly as talented a rival as Unaccompanied, and it is Dermot Weld's mare that is fancied to undo the favourite. A facile scorer on her first try at a staying trip over course and distance in April, she receives 10lb from Fame And Glory.
That means that, on official figures, Unaccompanied has 7lb to find with the market leader -- due be ridden for a first time by the trainer's son owing to regular rider Jamie Spencer being suspended. While she clearly has to improve if she's to do the business for Pat Smullen, the Moyglare Stud's mare remains progressive and her race-fitness could prove all-important.
In the preceding maiden, the O'Brien team's Offer should have enough quality to score following a debut second at Tipperary, while Cristoforo Columbo might continue the promising starts Henrythenavigator's offspring are making in the two-year-old race. Later, Mojita can atone for a narrow defeat at Cork last week when she lines out under top-weight in the fillies' handicap.
A one-paced second over an inadequate trip at Gowran Park first time, Ken Condon's four-year-old only just failed to overhaul Barrow Island by a head over 10 furlongs nine days ago. Tackling the same journey in lesser company now, she is going to take plenty of beating.
The nap vote, though, falls to David Wachman's Pacific Ridge in the mile maiden. Wayne Lordan's mount was unlucky to get collared late on at Dundalk last time, and is fancied to be better suited by a stiff mile than Kevin Prendergast's Curragh fourth Qasser.
Over jumps at Limerick, Bryan Cooper has a decent book of rides, with Our Girl Lucy and Definite Class possibly the pick of his lot. In division two of the Limerick GAA Handicap Hurdle, his father Tom's Our Girl Lucy, second at Ballinrobe, has solid form credentials, as does Dessie Hughes' easy Kilbeggan victor Definite Class in the mares' chase.
On a busy eight-race programme, the Supermacs Drive Thru Beginners' Chase is as good a contest as is on offer. Cadspeed, Bullock Harbour, El Fontan and Forjoetheplumber all have chances, but Anshan Dreams gets the nod for the Adrian Maguire-Barry Geraghty axis.
Meanwhile, at York yesterday Red Cadeaux paid a big compliment to one of Fame And Glory's main Ascot Gold Cup rivals by capturing the Yorkshire Cup in impressive fashion.
Ed Dunlop's globetrotter -- beaten by a whisker in last year's Melbourne Gold Cup -- was well beaten by Godolphin's Colour Vision on his reappearance at Kempton and there's little doubt that the progressive Colour Vision will be a live threat at Ascot. As for Red Cadeaux, the 4/1 chance stuck on well for Tom McLaughlin, after leading over a furlong out, to hold off Glens Diamond by a length.
"He's been a bit of a bridesmaid, but he was probably beaten by a very good horse at Kempton," said Dunlop. "He's adaptable from a mile and a half to a mile and six and he's won on good ground today. He was the first horse we took to Australia. He's not going to carry as little weight as he did last year and we will try go one better.
"He's in the Coronation Cup and the Hardwicke. He'll have one more run then he'll have a break and come back for an autumn and back-end campaign."