Aidan O’Brien is triple-handed as he bids to continue his domination of the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.
The Ballydoyle trainer has saddled a staggering 18 previous winners of the prestigious juvenile contest, including each of the last eight.
Among O’Brien’s winners are Septimus (2005), St Nicholas Abbey (2009), Saxon Warrior (2017) and last year’s hero Japan – while the John Oxx-trained trio of Alamshar (2002), Azamour (2003) and Sea The Stars (2008) also feature on the roll of honour.
This year’s O’Brien challenge is made up of Cormorant – fifth behind stablemate Mogul in a Group Two at Leopardstown a fortnight ago – Galway winner Innisfree and the experienced Royal County Down.
Ger Lyons saddles Killarney maiden winner Camorra, while Shekhem represents Dermot Weld.
The latter finished a neck second to Innisfree at the Galway Festival before filing the runner-up spot behind Mogul over this course and distance, so he was not winning out of turn when striking gold at Listowel almost three weeks ago.
The field is completed by Jessica Harrington’s Gold Maze and Silvertown from Andrew Oliver’s yard, who finished fifth and ninth on their respective debuts in a Curragh maiden last month.
Weld has two big chances in the Weld Park Stakes.
The master of Rosewell House began sponsoring the seven-furlong Group Three in the 1980s. It was subsequently run in memory of his father Charlie Weld and later his mother, Marguerite.
Weld has saddled six winners of the juvenile fillies’ race, formerly known as the C. L. & M. F. Weld Park Stakes – most recently striking gold with Eziyra in 2016 – and appears intent on adding to his tally this weekend, with the Aga Khan-owned pair of Shehreen and Tasalka both declared.
Shehreen confirmed the promise of her debut third at Cork with a narrow victory at Galway earlier in the month, while Tasalka was fourth here on her introduction before finishing second at Leopardstown and Tipperary respectively.
She was beaten just a nose by Blissful on the latter occasion – and that form looks strong, with the winner since scoring in Listed company at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend.
The standard is set by Johnny Murtagh’s Know It All, who won over the course and distance on her penultimate start before finishing seventh of nine runners in the Debutante Stakes.
Joseph O’Brien’s A New Dawn, Michael O’Callaghan’s Deidra and the Harrington-trained Nope are the other previous winners in the field.
O’Brien also runs New York Girl, while Harrington – who has had a tremendous season with her two-year-olds – is also represented by dual Cork runner-up Unknown Pleasures.
Aidan O’Brien – whose five winners of the race include this season’s dual 1000 Guineas heroine Hermosa in last year’s renewal – relies on Love Locket, fourth on her only previous start at Naas.