'The Irish Derby is our target' - Classic clues on offer in Nijinsky Stakes
Nijinsky Stakes (Listed) | 1m4f | 3yo | RTV
There could be Irish Derby clues on offer in one of two interesting Listed events at Leopardstown on Thursday, with half of the eight-strong Nijinsky Stakes field entered for this month's Dubai Duty Free-backed Classic.
The Mediterranean – who is set to run here instead of joining stablemate Bolshoi Ballet in the Cazoo Derby – is one of the most unexposed runners in the line-up but is entitled to be considered a leading contender, having produced a smart display to win a course-and-distance maiden last month.
He had the measure of Qatar Racing's Ruling, trained by Joseph O'Brien, by a length and a quarter on that occasion and both three-year-olds can be expected to come forward a fair deal.
With a rating of 104, Fernando Vichi, representing Donnacha O'Brien, brings some of the best stakes form to the table. He finished fourth to Cadillac and Van Gogh at last year's Irish Champions Weekend and claimed third behind Bolshoi Ballet in the Derrinstown Derby Trial last time.
The improving son of Australia has 2lb to find with Jim Bolger's Group 3 Eyrefield Stakes winner, Flying Visit, who needs to leave a disappointing Gallinule Stakes effort behind.
Agrimony hails from the in-form Joe Murphy team and tries 1m4f for the first time, having finished down the field in the Irish 2,000 Guineas last time in what was far from a bad effort on his first stakes attempt.
Colour Sergeant, a half-brother to Triumph Hurdle winner Quilixios, will likely appreciate stepping up to this trip for the first time, while Max Mayhem is on the up but has never been tested in black-type company before.
The only filly in the mix, Sacred Rhyme, ran too poorly to be true in the Blue Wind Stakes last month and is better judged on her Salsabil Stakes third.
The Jessica Harrington-trained daughter of Lope De Vega retains an entry for the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Juddmonte Irish Oaks.
What they say
Joe Murphy, trainer of Agrimony
It wasn't a bad run at the Curragh when it turned into a bit of a sprint finish. This is a stepping stone for him towards the Irish Derby – that's our target.
Joseph O'Brien, trainer of Max Mayhem and Ruling
Max Mayhem won well at Roscommon and has earned a shot at a Listed race so hopefully he can run well. Ruling ran well in a good maiden at the track last time and we decided to let him take his chance on what hopefully should be nice ground if they don't get too much rain. He's a horse we've always liked.
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of The Mediterranean
We were happy with him in a maiden at Leopardstown last time. This will be only his second start of the year – he had one run last season – and he seems to be in good form.
Jessica Harrington, trainer of Sacred Rhyme
She didn't run her race for whatever reason last time but she seems to be back in good form and I think the ground should be perfect for her.