Kevin Prendergast reports Madhmoon to be cherry-ripe as his top-class colt warms up for an autumn campaign by taking on six rivals in the Invesco Pension Consultants Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown on Thursday.
The Qipco Irish Champion Stakes over a mile and a quarter back at the Dublin venue next month is the next major target for the son of Dawn Approach.
He drops back to a mile for the first time since he was fourth to Magna Grecia in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, after just being pipped in the Investec Derby and finishing fourth in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.
“He couldn’t be better, he’s in great shape,” said Prendergast.
“It’s a start for him. He’s in the Champion Stakes – he has to have a run somewhere and this is a good place to run him.
“He’s been there three times. He’s won there twice and been second the other time. He likes the track and conditions suit him, so he should be there or thereabouts.”
Aidan O’Brien takes on Madhmoon with Turnberry Isle and I Remember You, while Michael O’Callaghan’s I Am Superman and Dermot Weld’s Zuenoon are the other three-year-olds in the line-up.
The two older horses in the Group Three heat are Jessica Harrington’s five-year-old Pincheck, who took this race 12 months ago, and the Jim Bolger-trained four-year-old Ancient Spirit.
The much-travelled colt shaped well on his first start since returning to Europe following a stint to Australia when third to Mohawk in the Meld Stakes on this course last month.