US Army Ranger out to prove he can still cut it in Group class
Dr Vincent O'Brien Centenary Alleged Stakes | 1m2f | Group 3 | ATR
This time last year we had only caught a single glimpse of US Army Ranger, winning a Curragh maiden on the first Sunday in April, but we soon found out he was a top-notch three-year-old.
Only Harzand came between him and Epsom Derby glory after he had claimed the Chester Vase, but the wheels came off after that and the son of Galileo was beaten in a pair of Group 3s before only beating two home in the Qipco Champion Stakes won by Almanzor on his final start at three.
So what will US Army Ranger achieve at four? We will find out quite a bit about him today and Aidan O'Brien says he had done well over the winter. Expect to see a more mature animal this afternoon.
O'Brien said: "He had an interrupted season after finishing second in the Derby and after having a good break he failed to win when he came back. We were happy with his runs though, and he's done well.
"He's in good form and ready to start. The ground shouldn't be a problem and we're hoping for a good run and a good season with him."
While almost all of Ireland basked in glorious sunshine on Saturday, shorts getting a surprise call-up from wardrobes, Ken Condon was cursing the warm weather as Success Days loves nothing more than a soft-ground showdown.
Condon said: "I've spoken to Tom Ryan and Brendan Sheridan and they've both assured me there will definitely be no good in the going description so he'll definitely run. He's pretty straight and I'm very happy with him.
"His weight is good and he's been on grass a couple of times. His preparation has been going well and he'll follow a similar path to last year.
Stellar Mass took eight attempts to open his account, but when he did break his duck there was no holding him back. He was third in last year's Irish Derby and won four times in 2016, including the Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown. Can he regain the winning thread on his first start as a four-year-old?
Ralph Beckett embarks on a rare voyage to Ireland as he brings over classy veteran Air Pilot, now eight.
His sole success last season came in a Group 3 on soft ground at Chantilly last June so, like Condon, Beckett will be hoping the ground does not dry out too much.
Ger Lyons and Colin Keane team up with Lustrous Light, while the six-runner field is completed by Sea Swift from the Dermot Weld stable.