Saturday: 2.10 Curragh
GAIN Marble Hill Stakes (Group 3) | 6f | 2yo | RTV/RTE2
It's been a tremendous start to the season for Aidan O'Brien's two-year-olds and he boasts a strong hand with two unbeaten winners in this five-runner Group 3.
Fasliyev (1999), Power (2011), Caravaggio (2016) and Fairyland (2018) are some of the quality performers to claim this prize for Ballydoyle, and this time Ryan Moore partners Listed scorer Blackbeard in a bid to make it 12 wins in the race for the legendary trainer.
A ready debut winner at Dundalk, he is entitled to be the most streetwise of Saturday's runners given he has had two runs and had to battle tenaciously to secure Listed honours over this course and distance 19 days ago.
Like Blackbeard, stablemate Deneuve is by No Nay Never and showed a willing attitude to land a Naas fillies' maiden last month. This represents a stiffer test but she is clearly open to improvement.
"Blackbeard won nicely the first day and had to work harder last time," said O'Brien. "We think he has progressed since then and the trip will suit him."
On Deneuve, O'Brien added: "We think she has come forward nicely since her first run. She's a lovely filly."
The Ballydoyle camp will have a decent line as to what is required to beat their biggest challenger, as the Ger Lyons-trained Tough Talk denied O'Brien's subsequent Naas winner Little Big Bear on debut at the Curragh last month.
A homebred by Kingman for owners Moyglare Stud, he achieved a Racing Post Rating of 100 then, which is the best on offer here.
Despite being the only runner in the line-up yet to win a race, it would be no surprise if the Michael O'Callaghan-trained Mehmar is in the mix following a most encouraging debut at Naas last Sunday when getting within three-quarters of a length of Norfolk Stakes favourite The Antarctic.
O'Callaghan said: "He didn't have that hard a race last weekend. Leigh [Roche] only gave him one flick and he got a little unbalanced, but he learned a lot and we think plenty of him.
"He takes plenty of work so will be well able to turn out this quickly again. We're quite hopeful he'll run a big race."
Ocean Vision became first-season sire US Navy Flag's first winner when striking at Dundalk last month but was safely held behind Blackbeard in Listed company afterwards.
Trainer Kieran Cotter said: "This trip will be a help to him. The more the ground dries out the better and we're looking forward to a good, solid run."