Madhmoon can cash in on an ease in grade and land the Group 3 Desmond Stakes over 1m at Leopardstown this Thursday (19:00).
Kevin Prendergast’s stable star is 10lb and upwards clear of his six rivals on adjusted ratings. The three-year-old gets 7lb weight-for-age from his elders and brings leading form claims into the race.
After winning twice at a mile as a juvenile over course and distance, including in Group 2 company, Madhmoon was a leading Classic contender for this season.
The Hamdam Al Maktoum owned Dawn Approach colt went down by half-a-length on reappearance when back in trip to 7f. Madhmoon was also penalised that day for his success and far from disgraced in defeat.
He was also a fine 4 1/2 length fourth to Magna Grecia in the English 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. There was a huge draw bias in favour of the winner running up the stands’ side rail.
Madhmoon then put in a career-best when beaten just half-a-length in the Epsom Derby. But for clipping heels and stumbling half-a-mile from home, he might’ve won the premier English Classic.
Although he wasn’t quite going the pace of Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck, Madhmoon battled superbly in a three-way fight for second place.
He just edged out Japan, old rival Broome and Sir Dragonet in a blanket finish in-behind the winner.
As Madhmoon was just denied third in a strange running of the Irish Derby last time out, connections decided to give him a break.
He drops back half-a-mile in trip for this, but it’s the easiest assignment he’s had for some time.
On all known form, he should win this comfortably. Despite cramped odds of 4/7 with Bethard, there’s no looking past Madhmoon for the Desmond Stakes this year.
Ancient Spirit best of older horses
Last year’s race winner Pincheck is back to defend his crown, but hasn’t scored since landing this 12 months ago.
The five-year-old Jessica Harrington trained gelding was a below par fifth and behind the re-opposing Ancient Spirit last time out, so he looks the forecast choice.
This recent recruit to the Jim Bolger yard ran a fine race on his Irish debut when third to Mohawk in this grade.
Although that event was over a furlong further, Ancient Spirit now meets Pincheck on 2lb better terms, so there’s no reason why he shouldn’t confirm form.
This four-year-old Invincible Spirit colt won the Group 2 German 2000 Guineas and scored again at that level last season when in the care of Jean-Pierre Carvalho.
A subsequent spring campaign Down Under in sprints with Australian trainer Chris Waller just wasn’t his bag at all.
Ancient Spirit shaped with more promise on his first start for Bolger back up in trip here, however.
He was beaten 3 1/2 lengths by Mohawk, but giving weight all-round including 9lb to the winner and a whole stone to the runner-up.
It’s a performance which can be upgraded, especially as the Desmond Stakes terms are more favourable.
Conceding 7lb to a three-year-old like Madhmoon is tough, as he’s expected to take this en route to bigger and better things.
The remainder have plenty to find on this red-hot favourite, however, and Ancient Spirit is well worth considering for the forecast at 8/1 with Coral as a result.
I Am Superman not discounted
Of the four other three-year-olds in the race, clear preference is for I Am Superman, who is well-in on both Pincheck and Ancient Spirit.
Trained by Michael O’Callaghan, this Footstepsinthesand colt won consecutive handicaps here and at Naas at the start of the season.
He bolted up by five lengths easing down in the latter which suggested he may be better than a handicapper.
Although I Am Superman has yet to prove that, he wasn’t totally disgraced when a 2 1/4 lengths fifth in a Listed race at The Curragh of when a six-length sixth to Phoenix of Spain in the Irish 2000 Guineas.
This is much easier than the latter. While I Am Superman was then down the field when eased to this level for the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, he has since resumed winning ways in a minor event at Naas.
He needs to step up on previous events, but he’s 6lb well-in on Pincheck and 4lb on Ancient Spirit on official ratings here.
That gives I Am Superman every chance of hitting the frame in the Desmond Stakes and odds of 11/2 with Betfred look make him an each-way alternative.
The remainder have too much to find – 17lb each – on Madhmoon. It’s going to take a major step forward from Dermot Weld’s Zuenoon or Aidan O’Brien trained pair Turnberry Isle and I Remember You to land a blow here.