Quorto bids to emulate sire Dubawi with Group 1 prize in his sights
Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes (Group 1) | 7f, 2yo | RTE2/ATR
Quorto, winner of the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket in July, is the only unbeaten colt in this event, which has a rich history of producing Classic winners.
The Godolphin-owned colt will be attempting to emulate his sire, Dubawi, who won the race in 2004 before going on to land the Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Quorto's trainer Charlie Appleby said of the dual winner: "He had a nice break after the Superlative and he has come back better than ever. He appears in good order.
"He is taking a step up in class and this race will decide the main contenders for the Classics next year."
William Buick's mount will be attempting to become the first British-trained winner of the National Stakes since Toormore scored for Richard Hannon in 2013. He goes into the race a general 14-1 shot for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, while he is 25-1 for the Investec Derby.
O'Brien chasing a National dozen
The National Stakes has a special place in Aidan O'Brien's heart as he enjoyed his first Group 1 success when Desert King won the race in 1996.
That was the first of 11 victories to date for the Ballydoyle trainer, whose other winners include King Of Kings, George Washington, Mastercraftsman, Power, Gleneagles and Churchill, all of whom, like Desert King, went on to achieve Classic success.
Heading O'Brien's team on Sunday is three-time winner Anthony Van Dyck, who landed the Group 2 Futurity Stakes over course and distance three weeks ago. He is around the 14-1 mark for the Guineas but generally shorter for the Derby, his Epsom odds ranging from 9-1 to 14-1.
O'Brien said: "We haven't done much with Anthony Van Dyck since his Futurity win but he seems in good form. He's won over a mile and twice over seven furlongs and is a colt we think will get further than a mile next year."
Christmas, beaten half a length when second to Anthony Van Dyck in the Futurity, Mohawk, who was two and a quarter lengths back in third in the same race, and Land Force, the Richmond Stakes winner who ran fourth in the Prix Morny, complete the Ballydoyle quartet.
O'Brien said: "Christmas is a tough, hardy colt. He ran very well last time and we've been happy with him since.
"We think Mohawk has come forward since his last race, while Land Force will be going seven furlongs for the first time. He's in good form and we've always thought he'd have a good chance of getting the distance."
Fozzy Stack is another trainer who is well represented in this contest with two runners. His Highland Fortune, who was beaten a neck by Christmas in the Listed Caravaggio Stakes at Tipperary on his most recent start, and Wargrave, a maiden after three starts, complete the seven-runner line-up.
Stack said: "Highland Fortune is a nice horse who just ran around a bit when he hit the front at Tipperary so that's why we're putting on the blinkers. Hopefully they will help and he seems in good form.
"We've always liked Wargrave, although he remains a maiden. He has run some good races in defeat."
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