The connections of current Irish headline performers Sea The Stars and Fame And Glory will be early arrivals at Leopardstown this afternoon for a pre-racing launch of next month’s Tattersalls Millions Champion Stakes.
Due to tackle York’s Juddmonte International next Tuesday, weather and ground conditions permitting, Sea The Stars has the highest-rated 10 furlongs race in this country firmly on his agenda.
“It’s a great race, it’s at home, it’s our Champion Stakes and we have been lucky enough to win it in the past with Timarida (1996) and Azamour (2004) is John Oxx’s verdict on the September 5 race.
As ever, the going will have to be suitable for the Hong Kong-owned son of Cape Cross to take up the challenge in the Tattersalls promotion with his former champion trainer reiterating: “At this level, he does need good or fast ground.”
Having worked satisfactorily after racing at the Dublin course last Thursday evening, Fame And Glory which was beaten under two lengths by Oxx’s charge in the Epsom Derby before running away with the Irish equivalent, is on target for the eagerly-awaited Group 1 rematch at Leopardstown.
This colt was given a break following his Dubai Duty Free success at headquarters on soft ground as the Leopardstown event and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe were identified as his remaining races this season.
“Dropping back to ten furlongs at Leopardstown isn’t an issue with Fame And Glory as he has so much pace. It should be a true test,” remarked champion trainer O’Brien who has Mastercraftsman stepping up a quarter of a mile for the first time in the Juddmonte International on the Knavesmire.
Despite the anxiety expressed by Oxx about a forecast for the risk of substantial rainfall at York over the weekend, Sea The Stars is as short as 2-5 with William Hill to make it four Group 1s on the bounce next Tuesday.
A well-beaten fourth behind Oxx’s ace on fast ground last May at Newmarket in the 2,000 Guineas, Mastercraftsman gave that form a boost when landing the Irish version and the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
More versatile in terms of underfoot conditions, this Ballydoyle star is a 5-2 chance with Hills to gain his revenge next week with Sir Michael Stoute’s Tartan Bearer (6/1) the only other contender on offer in single figures.
O’Brien’s Changingoftheguard is now 4-1 favourite for York’s Ebor Handicap while Age Of Aquarius has been cut half a point to 11-2 for St Leger ahead of stablemate Golden Sword (7-1).