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Key questions as British trainers seek to continue Sapphire Stakes dominance

Friarstown Stud Sapphire Stakes (Group 2) | 5f | 3yo+ | RTV

In the last decade the prize has only stayed at home three times, most recently in 2014 thanks to the Aidan O'Brien-trained Fountain Of Youth. Slade Power was successful the year before for Eddie Lynam, while Invincible Ash did the business for Michael Halford in 2011.

This has been a breeze for the British. Havana Grey won it last year, Caspian Prince the year before, while Mecca's Angel (2016) and Stepper Point (2015) complete the clean sweep for the away team over the last four years.

With half of the ten-runner field hailing from across the Irish Sea, there is a strong chance the recurring theme will continue, but the big question is, who is the best of the British?

The ratings suggest it is Soldier's Call, who boasts a mark of 114, helped by his near-miss in the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp on Arc day last year. His third to Blue Point and Battaash in the King's Stand at Royal Ascot last month is probably the best piece of form on offer.

However, he is only just ahead of John Quinn's El Astronaute, whose two victories this season have both come in Ireland, including over course and distance last time in the Rockingham, and goes for the hat-trick under Jason Hart.

Has Hills got the winner among his pair?

Charlie Hills is doubly represented and both his darts have the potential to hit the bullseye.

Equilateral has yet to win this season, but his close second to Mabs Cross in the Palace House at Newmarket is rock-solid form and former Irish champion jockey Colin Keane has been booked for the ride.

Hills said: "Equilateral looks as well in his coat as at any time this year. He has been unfortunate not to win this year, but if he performs up to his Palace House level he should be bang there. The track will suit but he wouldn't want much rain."

Garrus is no back number either having won two of his three starts this season.

"Garrus is a very exciting horse for the future. He has shown some really good form and ran very well from a bad draw at Sandown last time," Hills added.

Has Prince still got the power?

He is ten years of age, he has run 90 times and has won on 19 occasions, but there is no sign of Caspian Prince slowing up, that's for sure.

He has yet to win in 2019 but he has put up some brave efforts in defeat and his form figures at the Curragh read 251422. He was just denied in this race last year by Havana Grey.

"He should run well, he ran a good race at York last time, he's in good order and this race suits him," said trainer Mick Appleby.

Can Soffia cope with rise in class?

Soffia is a prolific scorer, winning six of her last 11 starts, and the big question now is whether she can continue her hot streak at a higher level.

The four-year-old daughter of Kyllachy is trained by Eddie Lynam, who certainly knows a thing or two about top sprinters, and is chasing a hat-trick following a Listed win at Naas and a narrow success in the Group 3 Ballyogan Stakes at this venue last month.

"Soffia is getting quicker now and maybe five is her best trip. She is one of those fillies who just keeps improving," said Lynam after her latest success.

Is Fantasy a dark horse?

You seldom see an Aidan O'Brien runner such a big price and perhaps we have not seen the best of the 89-rated Fantasy.

"The trip should suit her and we think she is progressing slowly all the time," said O'Brien.

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