The feature race at Doncaster on Saturday is the 1m Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy for juvenile colts (15:25).
Top Irish trainer Aidian O’Brien saddles all but one of the six runners as he bids to enhance his terrific record in the race.
The Ballydoyle handler has sent out nine previous winners of the final Group 1 of the British Flat season, just one short of the record set by the late Sir Henry Cecil.
Since first striking with Saratoga Springs in 1997, O’Brien has has been successful with superstars such as High Chaparral (2001), St Nicholas Abbey (2009), and Camelot (2011) – plus the last two subsequent winners of the 2000 Guineas in Saxon Warrior and Magna Grecia.
The pick of the O’Brien quintet in the Vertem Futurity Trophy this year looks to be the improving Mogul, a red-hot 1/2 favourite with Unibet.
After shaping with promise on debut at Gowran Park when a tenderly handled 3 1/2 lengths second of 10 to Geometrical, this beautifully bred son of Galileo duly showed the benefit of that experience when making all and easily beating Shekhem by 3 1/4 lengths.
The runner-up is a smart sort who went on to score next time up, before finishing runner-up in a Group 2 and the pair pulled well clear of the third home. That gives the form a solid look.
Mogul comes into this having taken the step up into Group 2 company in his stride when landing the Champions Juvenile Stakes over 1m at Leopardstown by just over a length from Sinawann.
He only had to be driven out to get the job done and it was a performance which suggested he had a big future. So, with no stamina issues, Mogul is taken to land this prestigious contest en route to better things.
Innisfree another leading contender for Ballydoyle
Innisfree, who is rated just 1lb below Mogul, is another improving sort saddled by O’Brien and feared most.
This son of Galileo chased home stable companion Year Of The Tiger on debut at Naas when given a sympathetic handling by Emmet McNamara, making stealthy late headway under a hands and heels ride to go down by just over four lengths.
He then showed a likeable attitude top open his account in a maiden at Galway where he was ridden from the front and, after getting headed at the furlong marker by Shekhem, rallied tenaciously to score by a neck.
Innisfree has since gone on to beat the same rival by a neck again in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes over a mile at The Curragh – where he was again strongest at the finish and would simply not be denied.
Those victories have shown that he has guts as well as class. Another plus is that Innisfree is proven over the trip and handles cut in the ground.
Whether he has the same potential going forward as the scopey Mogul is questionable, but he’s clearly getting better with each outing.
Inisfree looks sure to make a bold bid to land the hat-trick. He can be backed at 4/1 with Paddy Power to do just that in the Vertem Futurity Trophy.
Better to come from Kameko in Vertem Futurity Trophy
Sole British representative Kameko has some solid form to his name, so is another with claims given that he is rated 108 – the same as Mogul.
Trained by Andrew Balding, this Qatar Racing owned son of Kitten’s Joy created a good impression when making a winning debut in an eight-runner maiden at Sandown.
Under tender handling, Kameko took up the running at the furlong marker and was then always doing enough to hold off It’s Good To Laugh by half-a-length.
That imposing success earned him a crack at the Group 3 Solario Stakes over 7f at the same venue. Kameko looked all at sea when running green at the two marker.
However, when he finally got balanced he powered home to be gaining hand over fist at the finish and go down by just a nose a nose to Positive.
The runner-up had previously finished a five-length runner-up to star two-year-old Pinatubo in the Group 2 Vintage Stake at Goodwood, so the form is strong and commands Kameko plenty of respect in this.
Although beaten last time out when sent off a heavily backed 6/5 favourite in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket, Kameko arguably hit the front too soon and lost little in defeat in being beat just a neck by Royal Dornoch.
He still looks far from the finished article and is sure to have learned plenty from that battle.
So, with the prospect of further improvement looking assured, Kameko look sure to go well in the Vertem Futurity Trophy and is an 11/2 chance with Ladbrokes to thwart the Ballydoyle challenge.