With just 11 colts remaining in the field for the English St Leger on Saturday fortnight, Irish hopes of landing a third English Classic this season have been enhanced as five of them hail from Ballydoyle.
Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien has confirmed that both ante-post second favourite Age Of Aquarius and last week’s unlucky Ebor Handicap runner-up Changingoftheguard are on target for the Doncaster feature.
John Oxx, who has already plundered the 2,000 Guineas and Derby with Sea The Stars, could bolster the Irish challenge with current 10/1 chance Mourayan if the Aga Khan’s home-bred gets his favoured soft ground.
The oldest Classic in racing worldwide will clearly have a small but select field as not many owners or trainers will be keen to fork out a £45,000 supplementary fee.
Indeed, only the connections of Monitor Closely, which was a surprise, all-the-way scorer in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, have indicated their intention to add their horse to the line-up on Monday week.
After yesterday’s scratchings, Godolphin’s dual Group 3 victor Kite Wood (5/2) continued to retain his prime market slot ahead of Age Of Aquarius (3/1).
Second to Cavalryman at Longchamp last month in the Grand Prix de Paris, Age Of Aquarius previously had relished faster going at Lingfield when landing their Derby Trial and worked impressively at the Curragh recently.
The son of Galileo would appear a stronger candidate than Changingoftheguard (7/1) to provide the O’Brien stable with a follow-up to their St Leger victories with Milan, Brian Boru and Scorpion in the past eight years.
The Doncaster highlight clashes once more with the Irish equivalent at the Curragh, where four-time Ascot Gold Cup hero Yeats is short-listed to bid for a repeat of his 2007 success.
That twin Classic afternoon at headquarters and Doncaster comes a week after the hoped-for return match between Sea The Stars and O’Brien’s Irish Derby hero Fame And Glory at Leopardstown in the Tattersalls Champion Stakes.
“Fame And Glory had a break after his win at the Curragh and he seems to be fine. It’s so far so good with him regarding the Irish Champion,” said O’Brien.