The Topaz EBF Mile promises another gripping feature on day two of the Galway Festival, but the €69,000 showpiece is matched for intrigue by a cracking renewal of the Latin Quarter Chase.
Rarely has the conditions event boasted the depth and quality of opposition that it does this evening. Chief among those of interest in the 12-runner contest are three horses that attracted varying levels of support in this year's Irish Grand National.
Prince Erik, representing the Ballybrit kingpin Dermot Weld, has his first start since disappointing at Fairyhouse, while Sarteano and The Last Derby clash for a second time since the Easter highlight.
At Cork in May, both came up short against the classy Mossey Joe, with The Last Derby faring marginally better in second.
Joining them in tonight's two-mile-six-furlong chase are the former Grade One-winning hurdler Muirhead, as well as the long-absent Sir Frederick. Off the track since incurring a leg injury at the 2008 Punchestown Festival, Liam Burke's 11-year-old's finest hour came when he sluiced home in the 2007 Galway Plate.
Following that emphatic victory, Burke confirmed that Sir Frederick, which was having his first start for four months, operated best when fresh. With that in mind, it will be fascinating to see how he fares after three years off.
The British raider First In The Queue has been aimed high in the past, but returned to form in lesser company last month. He could figure prominently again now.
Raggletagglegypsy has progressed to win twice in recent months and may still have more in him. Although beaten last time, Princeton Plains is another that should not be too far away, with Sublime Talent likewise respected.
Beaten three times at Galway, that one got the hang of hurdling when flying home late on at Ballinrobe in May. London Bridge also looks smart, having thrashed subsequent winner Hans Crescent when hosing up for a second time at Downpatrick recently.
Verdict -- London Bridge might just be a bit special.
5.35 Latin Quarter Chase
Prince Erik didn't seem to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Irish Grand National. The highest-rated here off 137, he might be happier in a smaller field such as this.
The Last Derby ran better at Fairyhouse to be sixth, but he hasn't quite recaptured his best form since. That said, Eoin Griffin's charge comes out well at these weights.
King High, second at Limerick last time, could struggle off top-weight, while Muirhead and Truckers Delight are two others to consider. The latter has won at the Festival before, but Muirhead is less exposed over fences.
Verdict -- The Last Derby to return to form on some nice ground.
6.10 Topaz Handicap
Dorset Square will be popular here on the back of two recent wins. He is a total of 18lbs higher for those triumphs, but might not be done with yet.
The consistent Walter De La Mere is respected again, as is Striking Force. Fifth here in a similar event 12 months ago, that one has little weight on its back today.
Rainforest Magic was third here in 2010. On his only subsequent Flat start, he was a close sixth in a Leopardstown race that has since thrown up the winners of 11 races.
Verdict -- Rainforest Magic appeals on its first start over two miles.
6.45 Topaz Mile EBF Handicap
Separate Ways could run a big race in this. A winner here last year, he loves Galway and isn't badly treated when you factor in his useful claimer's allowance.
Stunning View, another that has won around here before, would have a chance if she recaptured her best form, while Boynagh Joy and Pires are two others with solid credentials. Both have been running well and are drawn nicely.
Defining Year should also go close. Six pounds higher than when successful on his seasonal bow in a Curragh handicap, he has twice since run well in better company. Drawn on the inside, he has the benefit of an eight-pound three-year-old allowance.
Verdict -- The unexposed Defining Year has plenty going for him.
7.15 Caulfieldindustrial.com EBF Fillies' Maiden
Mahaazen did lots right when second first time up at Limerick. With the winner since placed in a Group Three and the fourth scoring next time, her form reads well.
There may not be much to choose between the remainder. Soon and Precious Dream, both Coolmore-owned, also showed up well on their respective debuts.
Verdict -- Mahaazen's form is hard to top.
7.45 Caulfield Industrial Athlone Handicap
Copper Dock and Iron Major bring winning form into this. While Copper Dock is an open book with 32 Flat starts, Iron Major gets in off a mark that he won off in October, so he should go close now that he has found his form again.
Footprint also appeals as a contender. Second at last year's Festival, he has filled the same spot twice in his last three starts and is drawn on the rail.
Verdict -- Footprint might just shade it from his plum draw.
8.15 Caulfieldindustrial.com EBF Maiden
Diamond Daze, second in a respectable maiden at Fairyhouse two weeks ago, has scope to progress but it's difficult to avoid the Dermot Weld representative.
Catch The Eye ran into the subsequent Classic trial winner Creekside first time up, and then finished second again to another Group-class performer, Claiomh Solais, at Naas in May. She sets the standard now.
Verdict -- Catch The Eye is the nap selection.