Roger Varian to make late call on Defoe's participation in Tattersalls Gold Cup
Tattersalls Gold Cup | Group 1 | 4yo and up| 1m2½f | RTE1/ATR
A furlong out in last year's Derby it looked as though Cliffs Of Moher and Ryan Moore had the Epsom Classic in the bag, only for 40-1 shot and stablemate Wings Of Eagles to sweep by.
Not only was Cliffs Of Moher denied a Derby victory but he has been beaten in all five Group 1s he has contested since, finishing no closer than fourth. If he does not finish better than fourth here, connections – and punters – will be flabbergasted.
This must represent his best chance of a top-flight victory, coming off the back of a win in this month's Mooresbridge Stakes – his first since the 2017 Dee Stakes at Chester – and on Saturday Cliffs Of Moher was favourite at no better than even-money in the five-runner field.
So You Think's second consecutive victory in the race in 2012 was the most recent of Aidan O'Brien's six wins in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, and he is represented not only by Cliffs Of Moher but also Lancaster Bomber, who will be tackling a mile and a quarter for the first time, having run third in the Lockinge Stakes on his most recent start.
O'Brien said: "We're very happy with Cliffs Of Moher's win in the Mooresbridge Stakes at Naas last time. He came out of the race well and we think a mile and a quarter suits him well. He'll also like the fast ground.
"Lancaster Bomber ran very well in the Lockinge and we thought this would be a good time to step him up in trip."
Roger Varian will walk the course on Sunday before deciding whether Defoe will take his chance.
Defoe, the mount of Andrea Atzeni, who was successful on Decorated Knight a year ago, has won both his starts this year – the John Porter at Newbury and Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket – and, ground permitting, is ready to return to the top level for the first time since finishing in rear in last season's St Leger.
The Newmarket trainer said: "Defoe's participation will depend on how quick the ground is. He's certainly earned the return to Group 1 company after winning at Group 2 and Group 3 level this season.
"I don't think the drop back from a mile and a half would inconvenience him on a track like the Curragh. He's training nicely and would have a very live chance on form, but I wouldn't want to compromise his season by running him on an unsuitable surface.
"A final decision about his participation will be made at the last minute."
Success Days, who will be running in the race for the third time, is best suited by easy ground, and conditions will be far from ideal for the Ken Condon-trained six-year-old, who finished second to Cliffs Of Moher in the Mooresbridge last time.
Last year's sixth Reckless Gold, trained by Joseph O'Brien, completes the field and will be having his first run since October.
Read The Briefing from 8.30am daily on racingpost.com with all the day's latest going, weather, market moves and non-runner news