City Of Troy and Bucanero Fuerte will clash for the first time at the Curragh on Sunday in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes.
Six have been declared and Aidan O’Brien will bid to return to the roll of honour for the first time in the Group One event since 2016 with his promising son of Justify, who made it two from two with real authority in the Superlative Stakes.
He is already the ante-post market leader for next year’s 2000 Guineas and Derby, but faces his toughest opponent to date in the form of Adrian Murray’s Bucanero Fuerte.
The Wootton Bassett colt already has a Group One victory to his name and connections are relishing a highly-anticipated head-to-head.
“The team at Adrian’s are delighted with him, Robson (Aguiar) rides him on a regular basis and is delighted with him. He hasn’t missed a beat since the Phoenix Stakes,” said Tom Pennington, racing and operations manager for owners Amo Racing.
“He’s run four times and has the experience and is battle-hardened. He’s always had a touch of class from day one, but he can be a streetfighter.
“I know it’s 10-1 bar the two, but it’s no match race and there are a couple of others to be wary of despite City Of Troy looking the one to beat.”
O’Brien has also left in his unbeaten Henry Longfellow.
It promises to be a big afternoon for the master of Ballydoyle who has leading chances across the card and sees the return of his staying star Kyprios in the Comer Group International Irish St Leger.
The five-year-old carried all before him on the long-distance scene last season before injury has seen him sidelined for most of the current campaign and he will face off against four rivals that include Eldar Eldarov.
O’Brien will also saddle the unbeaten Ylang Ylang in a field of nine for the Moyglare Stud Stakes.
Ante-post favourite for the next year’s 1000 Guineas, she gets her first shot at Group One glory with the pick of her opposition appearing Donnacha O’Brien’s Royal Ascot scorer Porta Fortuna and Willie McCreery’s Vespertilio.
Highfield Princess is the headline act in the Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Flying Five Stakes as John Quinn’s sprinting star faces nine rivals when defending her crown.
The six-year-old brought up a Group One hat-trick when a convincing winner of the race 12 months ago and although victories have been less common this term, she has continued to feature at the business end of all the major sprinting events.
She will go toe-to-toe once again with Royal Ascot conqueror Bradsell, with Archie Watson’s charge having three-quarters of a length to find from the duo’s most recent meeting in the Nunthorpe, while others of note include track specialist Art Power (Tim Easterby) and French raider Bouttemont (Yann Barberot).