Royal Ascot hero Battleground puts his tall reputation on the line in the Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes at Goodwood on Tuesday.
As well as being a son of American speedster War Front, Aidan O’Brien’s youngster is the first foal out of the yard’s brilliant racemare Found – best known for winning the 2016 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Despite finishing a never-nearer fifth on his racecourse debut at Naas in early June, Battleground was a well-supported favourite for the Chesham Stakes 10 days later – and that confidence was justified with an emphatic victory.
O’Brien said: “He’s a big, powerful horse with a lovely mind. He’s very uncomplicated and mentally very easy – he hasn’t shown any issues yet, either mentally or physically.
“This will be another step in his life. Goodwood is obviously an unusual track, so hopefully he’ll cope with it – and if he doesn’t, hopefully he’ll learn from it.
“Found was an unbelievable mare – so tough it was incredible. She was one filly who would lay her whole soul out for you every day and always the thing with her was not to let her do too much.
“When she won the Arc, it was a day none of us will ever forget.”
Battleground will be a warm order to dispatch of nine rivals at Group Two level on the Sussex Downs, with the standard arguably set by the Tom Dascombe-trained Devious Company.
Following successive wins at Haydock in June, the Fast Company colt went in search of his hat-trick in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket – and was far from disgraced in finishing a clear second to the exciting Master Of The Seas.
Dascombe said: “He’s been a model of consistency really. He’s won his maiden, he’s won his novice giving weight away and I thought he ran really well in the Superlative – finishing second to what is obviously a very good horse.
“He beat a lot of other good horses that day and I think Goodwood should be fine for him. He has a bit of experience now, having had the three runs. I wouldn’t want to see too much rain, but I’m pretty confident he’d handle most ground.
“On distances, weights and measures I think we might have the beating of the favourite on form, but obviously Aidan O’Brien’s horses do tend to improve a lot.
“I think we go there with a good, solid chance and if the O’Brien horse is better than us then he’ll beat us – it’s as simple as that.”
Other contenders include Roger Varian’s Dark Lion, the Mark Johnston-trained pair of King Zain and Thunder Of Niagra and Gorytus from Richard Fahey’s yard.