Famous Name will have to beat no less a rival than Born To Sea when he aims to secure his first Group Two win in tomorrow’s Keeneland Royal Whip Stakes at the Curragh.
Successful 11 times at Group Three level, and 18 times in all, Dermot Weld’s seven-year-old has been predictably prolific again this season in adding four more races to his haul.
Born To Sea, the half-brother of Sea The Stars, will provide the most serious of tests after finishing just two lengths behind Camelot in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.
Previously fourth in the St James’s Palace at Royal Ascot, trainer John Oxx will now ask the colt to deliver at the interim distance of 10 furlongs.
Just two others are in the field, with Aidan O’Brien stepping the lightly-raced Warwick Avenue up in class after wins in a maiden at the Kildare course and in a conditions event at Fairyhouse.
Bob Le Beau, who finished last in Thursday’s Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown, has also been declared.
Of Famous Name, owner Prince Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe said: “He is stepping back up to Group Two level again.
“He has contested remarkably few Group Twos compared with Listed races, Group Threes and Group Ones – I think that’s because there are fewer of them from an Irish point of view.
“It’s back to the Curragh and his enthusiasm remains undiminished – we’re spoiled to have such a consistent horse.”
Weld would love Famous Name to gain that elusive Group One, but Grimthorpe said: “We have to be realistic, but it’s always in our minds.
“We might have to look for something again in the autumn.”
Oxx has tried Born To Sea in a hood and blinkers this term but has decided to leave the headgear off altogether.
“He hasn’t been wearing them at home and he’d been perfectly settled, so we’re thinking and hoping he doesn’t need them any more. We’ll have to try it this time anyway,” said the distinguished local trainer.
“Everyone knows Famous Name, he’s a very good, consistent horse who loves soft ground and a small field. He’s proved a tough nut to crack over the years.
“Our fellow is in good form and has improved with racing this season. It’s his first try at a mile and a quarter but it could be his ideal distance.
“The ground is soft. We’ve had a hot day today but there are showers forecast. However, I don’t think ground is much of an issue for him.”
O’Brien’s son Joseph, Warwick Avenue’s rider, is treating it as a fact-finding mission.
“It’s a small field and my horse has won his last two,” he said. “It’s a big step up in class for him and it’s a good race.
“He has a bit to find at the ratings but he is improving and it’s hard to know how good he is.”
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