Elliott's chance of first Group 1 with Beckford boosted by Klimt absence
Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes (Group 1) | 2yo colts and fillies | 7f | RTE1/ATR
Beckford, who came up half a length short when bidding to give trainer Gordon Elliott a first Group 1 win in the Phoenix Stakes last month, returns to the Curragh attempting to go one better in a race that has been won by so many subsequent Classic winners during its long history.
He is likely to be sent off as favourite in the absence of Aidan O'Brien's Gustav Klimt, who was ruled out on the morning of the race.
A son of Bated Breath, Beckford has done all his racing at the Curragh, winning a maiden and the Group 2 Railway Stakes in which he beat the reopposing Verbal Dexterity, before losing out to Sioux Nation on his most recent visit.
He will be tackling seven furlongs for the first time and Elliott believes the extra distance will be beneficial.
He said: "Beckford is in very good form and I think stepping up in trip will suit. It's a very good race but we're expecting a very good run from him."
Pat Smullen, who takes over from Declan McDonogh on Beckford, will be attempting to win the race for the second time, 15 years after scoring on Refuse To Bend.
Aidan O'Brien, whose Sioux Nation denied Beckford and Elliott in the Phoenix Stakes, is seeking a 12th win in the race which provided him with the first Group 1 success of his career in 1996, when Desert King was successful.
The Ballydoyle trainer, who saddled Churchill to win 12 months ago and is going for four in a row, planned to run four, but Gustav Klimt, winner of the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket on his most recent start, misses out.
O'Brien, who is represented by Rostropovich, Berkeley Square and Coat Of Arms, said: "Coat Of Arms hasn't won but he lost out only in a photo finish to Rostropovich in the Futurity last time, when Berkeley Square ran third.
"All three of them have solid form and we're happy with them."
Jessica Harrington, who won the National Stakes with Pathfork in 2010, is represented by Brother Bear, who ran third in the Anglesey Stakes at the Curragh in July and steps up in trip.
The trainer said: "We think we have Brother Bear back on track. He really does seem to be back to himself. It's a hot race but I've been very happy with him over the last few weeks."
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