Fame And Glory is the notable absentee as Saddler’s Rock was left to head eight declared runners in Friday’s Seamus And Rosemary McGrath Memorial Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown.
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Multiple Group One winner Fame And Glory took in the Listed race en-route to winning last year’s Gold Cup at Ascot, but this year looks set to head straight to the Royal meeting to defend his crown.
His defection leaves the way clear for the John Oxx-trained Saddler’s Rock to book his place in the Gold Cup field as he makes his first appearance since landing the Doncaster Cup in September.
He is forced to concede weight all round in the one-mile-six-furlong contest and will have to be on top of his game if he is to make a winning return.
Dermot Weld saddles talented mare Unaccompanied, as well as Sense Of Purpose.
Jessica Harrington also has two chances with Bob Le Beau and Steps To Freedom, while Eternal Heart from Mark Johnston’s Middleham stable is the sole British contender.
Midnight Soprano and Royal Diamond, first and second respectively in the Paddy Power Handicap at the Curragh late last month, complete the line-up.
The Nijinsky Stakes is the other Listed prize on the evening card and has attracted a field of 10 runners.
Oxx’s Aklan and Blue Corner from the Mick Halford stable both step up in class after making winning debuts.
Tower Rock, Coral Wave and Tannery all arrive with ratings in excess of 100 and promise to give the less experienced runners a real test.