One-time Derby favourite Sir Dragonet is the potential star attraction on the opening day of the Irish Flat turf season at Naas.
While the new campaign was originally set to get under way 24 hours earlier, it will instead start on Monday – after Horse Racing Ireland moved the fixture as part of a reshuffle which has allowed fixtures to continue behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak.
One of the feature events is the Listed Devoy Stakes, in which Sir Dragonet could kick-off his campaign.
Aidan O’Brien’s colt was the market leader for the Investec Derby last June off the back of winning his first two starts – and was beaten just three-quarters of a length into fifth place in a blanket finish to the premier Classic at Epsom.
The son of Camelot was only fourth as odds-on shot on his next start, but rounded off his season with a creditable effort to finish fourth in the St Leger at Doncaster and will undoubtedly be a warm order if returning to the fray next week.
Sir Dragonet is almost a stone clear of his rivals on official ratings. Among his prospective opponents are Joseph O’Brien’s trio of Numerian, Pondus and Verimli, as well as the one-raced Cork victor Brogue – a son of Frankel from Dermot Weld’s yard.
There is a total prize fund of 50,000 euros up for grabs in the Naas Racecourse Business Club Madrid Handicap.
O’Brien is responsible for six of the 25 entries, while Joseph O’Brien has three contenders.
Michael Mulvany hopes to saddle both The King Of Kells and In From The Cold.
The former won three times in 2019 and blew away any cobwebs with a comeback third at Dundalk at Dundalk earlier in the month. In From The Cold has been off the track since scoring over the course and distance in early November.
Mulvany said: “I’d like to run the two of them if they both get in. They both seem to handle a bit of dig in the ground and they’re two good, honest horses.
“The King Of Kells ran well last week and I’d say this trip (seven furlongs) is ideal for him. The other horse might get a bit further down the line, but the ground is going to heavy ad it will be good to get them started.
“If both horses run, I’m not sure which would come out on top.”
Group Three honours are up for grabs in the Lodge Park Stud Irish EBF Park Express Stakes.
O’Brien looks set to rely on Blissful, who was last seen finishing down the field in the Rockfel at Newmarket.
Her likely opponents include Mick Halford’s Guineas Trial winner Hamariyna and the Ger Lyons-trained Even So, who was impressive on her latest outing at Gowran Park in September.