Dundalk stages the €63,000 Group 3 Recruit Island Diamond Stakes. Such a race on a Friday night at Dundalk indicates how far the track has come in its ten-year existence.
Aidan O’Brien has been responsible for five of the last nine winners and six of the last nine winners were sent off as favourite, with four of them being returned at odds-on. The Irish 2,000 Guineas winner, Mastercraftsman, subsequent dual-Group 1 winner, Declaration Of War, and subsequent Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Muhannak have all won the race since 2008.
Aidan looks set to be strongly represented once again with last season’s English St Leger winner, Capri, and this season’s Group 1 Lockinge Stakes winner, Rhododendron, among his initial entry.
His runners could be joined by Willie Mullins’ Galway winner, Riven Light, Joseph O’Brien’s Ming, who ran very well – a close-up sixth in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington in Chicago last time, and English raider Mootasadir, who is trained by Hugo Palmer and has yet to be beaten on All Weather surfaces in England.
He has a progressive look to him, as does Dermot Weld’s unbeaten-in-two races, Mutaabeq. Dermot could also run the Aga Khan’s Roscommon Listed winner, Kalaxana, who also finished second in a Group 3 race at Cork two runs ago.
England could also be represented in the race by Ed Dunlop’s Global Giant, who, last time out, finished second in the Group 3 Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor.
It all adds up to another good renewal of the race under the lights at Dundalk.
The three-day Cambridgeshire Handicap meeting begins on Thursday and, as usual, looks set to be competitive and informative.
The first leg of the ‘Autumn Double’, the Cambridgeshire, is due off at 3:40pm on Saturday on a card that begins with three quality two-year-old contests – the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes, the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes and the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes, each of them sponsored by Juddmonte.
The Middle Park is generally a very informative race and this year looks set to bring together Aidan O’Brien’s impressive Group 3 Round Tower Stakes winner, Ten Sovereigns, the Gimcrack Stakes winner, Emaraaty Ana, and Simon Crisford’s unbeaten-in-two, Jash. O’Brien could also run his Coventry Stakes third Sergei Prokofiev.
The Cheveley Park also has a rich history and this year could bring together the current 2019 1,000 Guineas favourite, Pretty Pollyana, the filly she beat into second in the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville last time, Signora Cabello, Sheila Lavery’s Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes runner-up, Lady Kaya, and Aidan O’Brien’s pair, the Group 2 Lowther Stakes winner, Fairyland, and the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes runner-up, So Perfect.
It is a race to savour.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, the card at Naas contains the Group 2 Beresford Stakes along with three Group 3 races – the CL and MF Weld Park Stakes, the Loughbrown Stakes and the Renaissance Stakes – plus the €50,000 Joe McGrath Handicap and the latest Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Race (for two-year-olds).
The Beresford Stakes has been won this century by subsequent Classic winners Saxon Warrior, Capri, Sea The Stars, Septimus and Alamshar plus multiple Group 1 winners St Nicholas Abbey and Azamour. This year’s English St Leger winner Kew Gardens finished fourth in the race last year.
Aidan O’Brien has won the race 17 times, including the last seven renewals.
It is another race with a fine history and one more reason, as if needed, to closely monitor this week’s racing.