Santiago Back For Vintage Crop

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Santiago | Racingfotos.com

With Ascot's G1 Gold Cup now less than two months away, the road to the prestigious feature of the Royal meeting begins on Sunday as Ballydoyle's Santiago (Ire) (Authorized {Ire}) returns in Navan's G3 Vintage Crop S. Last seen finishing fourth in the G1 St Leger at Doncaster in September, the G1 Irish Derby hero races under a penalty for his triumph in that Curragh Classic last June and faces one who has already been in the mix in the 2 1/2-mile marathon in Master of Reality (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) who was third to Stradivarius (Ire) (Sea the Stars {Ire}) in 2019. “My colt was obviously very good when winning the Queen's Vase and Irish Derby and he ran up to that level in defeat in the Goodwood Cup and the St Leger afterwards,” Ryan Moore commented. “He didn't end up running when he travelled down to Australia in the autumn, but he is clearly a top staying prospect this year and this looks an ideal starting point for him.”

Master of Reality's trainer Joseph O'Brien also has Baron Samedi (GB) (Harbour Watch {Ire}) engaged and he is untried at staying trips having signed off last term with a career-best success in the 11-furlong G2 Prix du Conseil de Paris at ParisLongchamp in October. “Master of Reality has been a super horse for us, most notably going close in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and the Melbourne Cup in 2019. He tends to improve with racing, so he is highly likely to improve on whatever he does here. We're looking forward to another exciting season with him,” their trainer said. “Baron Samedi was a revelation last year, transforming from looking very moderate to winning five races in a row including a Group 2 at Longchamp. We think he might be able to stay a bit further this year and how he copes with this longer trip will be our main focus here. He should improve from whatever he does and we are excited to see how he runs.”

Preceding the Vintage Crop is the 10-furlong Listed Irish Stallion Farms EBF Salsabil S. for Oaks prospects, with Aidan O'Brien relying solely on the highly-regarded Willow (Ire) (American Pharoah). A daughter of the multiple Group 1-winning Peeping Fawn (Danehill), she was off the mark at the third attempt over a mile at Leopardstown in October and will be tested against a clutch of unexposed fillies with similarly unexposed status. They include Moyglare Stud Farm's Port Sunlight (Ire) (Harzand {Ire}), who looked a stayer of note when scoring with authority in a mile maiden on testing ground at Gowran Park in October. She is re-opposed by the RacehorseClub's Create Belief (Ire) (Awtaad {Ire}), who was third on that occasion and who has since gone back to the same course and distance to get off the mark.

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