Will the Beresford Stakes produce yet another equine star?

The Beresford Stakes has an illustrious roll of honour, which includes Saxon Warrior (2017).
The Beresford Stakes has an illustrious roll of honour, which includes Saxon Warrior (2017).

The end of the Flat season is a fantastic time of year for racing fans, as we get to see a whole host of Group 1 races for the younger horses, with most of the attention falling on the potential classic contenders for the following year.

One such race this weekend is the Group 2 Beresford Stakes in Ireland, with some of the best young Irish horses in training set to clash at the Curragh on Sunday afternoon.

When it comes to the Beresford Stakes, there is only one man to talk about, with Aidan O'Brien dominating the race over the past 20 years or so. The master of Ballydoyle has saddled the Beresford winner on no less than 18 occasions, which is without doubt one of his finest achievements.

O'Brien uses the Group 2 as a stepping stone for his future classic horses, and the race often proves to be the ideal pointer towards the pecking order of the classic horses at Coolmore.

Recent winners of the race for the famous trainer include St Nicholas Abbey (2009), Capri (2016), Saxon Warrior (2017) and Japan - who won this race last year before going on to win the French Derby this campaign, while he's also a key contender for next month's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. 

Away from Ballydoyle, a certain Sea The Stars won the Beresford in 2008 for John Oxx, and it would be no surprise to see an equally-lofty winner emerge from the pack on Sunday afternoon.

Ballydoyle send three this time around, with Cormorant, Innisfree and Royal County Down the chosen trio to try and give Aidan O'Brien a 19th win in the race.

Of the three O'Brien chances, it could be that Innisfree is the one to beat, with Donnacha O'Brien set to take the ride on the Galileo colt after a hard-fought win last time out at Galway, and we are expecting another step forward.

Connections will be hoping he can make up into a genuine 2000 Guineas contender or even a Derby runner, but first he will need to prove he has the talent in the locker.

Strangely though, this year's Beresford Stakes may not be all about Aidan O'Brien, with one or two strong opponents from opposing yards for punters to consider on Sunday.

Camorra looked like a horse to follow when winning a maiden on debut at Killarney last month and should take a step forward for Ger Lyons, while similar comments apply to Shekhem, who has improved with every run on his four starts to date, and could easily hit the frame at the very least for Dermot Weld and the Aga Khan.

The majority of the attention though will of course fall on the remarkable record of the Ballydoyle handler, with a win this weekend set to be his ninth of the trot - which is an extraordinary spell of dominance, even for someone who has achieved such heights in the sport.

The classic picture will certainly be slightly clearer at the end of the weekend with plenty of action to follow as far as the juveniles are concerned, beginning with three Group 1 races at Newmarket Races on Saturday, before the action moves to Ireland on Sunday.

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