There’s no Order of St George in this year’s Irish St Leger (16:50), the two-time winner of the race having been retired earlier this week.
“Age has caught up with him,” explained Aidan O’Brien, just part of a glowing eulogy which made me consider my own existence, however time is very much on the side of the three-year-old Flag of Honour.
He won the Curragh Cup in July and was much improved when following up in the Irish St Leger Trial over C&D last time by a neck from Twilight Payment. He ground it out better than Theresa May at a South African school dance that day, and is preferred to stablemate Idaho who hasn’t run at the track since finishing second in the 2016 Irish Derby.
The progressive Weekender, who was runner-up in the Ebor last time, and Irish Derby winner Latrobe, look the pick of the rest.
With the two Fozzy Stack runners looking out of their depth, the National Stakes (16:15) looks a straightforward fight between Aidan O’Brien and Charlie Appleby.
Normally four-on-one fights are unfair, however, as the Karate Kid taught us, sometimes the outnumbered fighter comes to the fore.
The Godolphin-owned Quorto improved when winning from a Ballydoyle runner in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket when last seen, and though that form hasn’t worked out well, he has a good chance of becoming the first winner of that race since Olympic Glory in 2012 to go on to Group 1 success.
However, he has his hands full with the Futurity Stakes 1-2-3 Anthony Van Dyke, Christmas and Mohawk.
Compared to some of the horses she’s beaten so far – and takes on in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at 15:40 – Skitter Skatter is about as unfashionable as wearing socks, sandals and a tank top to the New York Fashion Show.
Mind you, that might be in vogue now, who knows?
It’s safe to say that any sort of fashion is yet to reach us in Halifax, so we have no problem in siding with the Patrick Prendergast-trained filly after a Debutante Stakes win in which she beat several of Sunday’s rivals.
The fly in the ointment might be Just Wonderful, who improved again and caught the eye on the clock, when winning the Flame of Tara Stakes last time (third home Fleeting has franked the form since).
The Flying Five Stakes (15:05) has been upgraded to Group 1 level this year, proving beyond all doubt that those at the Curragh could sell ice to Eskimos, with Sunday’s field not significantly stronger despite an increase in prize money.
Caravaggio got his career back on track when winning the race last year and this could be a good opportunity for Havana Grey to kickstart his own three-year-old campaign, having only fulfilled his potential once this year (when winning the Sapphire Stakes over C&D in July).
The Ballydoyle trio of Sioux Nation, Battle of Jericho and Different League are considered lesser threats than the Beverley Bullet winner Take Cover, who is older than all three put together.