A’Ali is set to contest a mouthwatering renewal of the Coolmore Nunthorpe at York next month following his big-race triumph in Ireland on Sunday.
The son of Society Rock claimed a hat-trick of Group Two wins as a two-year-old last season, landing the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Prix Robert Papin at Deauville and the Flying Childers at Doncaster.
He signed off his juvenile campaign with a run at the Breeders’ Cup, where he was done no favours by the draw, and while he was down the field on his reappearance at Newcastle, he returned to his best with victory in the Group Three Coral Charge at Sandown earlier this month.
Stepping back up to Group Two level for the Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh, A’Ali continued his resurgence with a decisive victory under Colin Keane – and is now set to take on defending champion Battaash and July Cup hero Oxted, among others, on the Knavesmire.
Ed Crisford, who trains A’Ali in partnership with his father, Simon, said: “He was slowly into stride and ended up racing on his own to begin with, so it was a worrying first two or three furlongs, but he picked up and I thought he did it extremely well in the end.
“It’s great to win another Group Two with him. I think he’s actually improved from two to three and has strengthened up – he’s turning into a very progressive sprinter.
“He deserves to take his chance at the top level now. I’d imagine we’ll go for the Nunthorpe next month and his big target will be the Flying Five back at the Curragh in September – I think the stiff five furlongs there suits him really well.
“We’ll have to take on Battaash in the Nunthorpe and with Art Power, Oxted and the American two-year-old (Golden Pal) all looking like heading there, it should be a great race.”
Crisford was in France on Sunday to see Century Dream finish fifth in the Group One Prix d’Ispahan at Chantilly.
He added: “The ground was just too quick for him, unfortunately.
“It was a stiflingly hot day in Paris – it must have been 32 degrees. They chucked as much water on as they could, but it dried out during the day and by the time the d’Ispahan came around the ground was on the quick side of good, which he just can’t handle.
“He’s come out of it well, so we’ll just try to find a race for him on easier ground.”
The Newmarket handler also provided a positive update on Ostilio, who returned from almost a year on the sidelines with a fine effort to finish second in a conditions event at Haydock on Friday evening.
Crisford said: “He was returning from a long lay-off, having picked up an injury in America last year.
“I thought he ran a very good race in what was quite a hot contest. Hopefully it will be a good springboard for him.
“I’m not sure what the plan is – we’re just working on that now. I think there might be another conditions race for him in around three weeks’ time and it would be nice to get his head in front again before stepping up in class.”