The Gladness Stakes has some famous names on its list of past winners, including the 2000 Guineas winners Lomond and El Gran Senor, and Giant's Causeway who finished second at Newmarket. The last three-year-old to be successful was in 2001, though it's only in recent years that the race has been opened up again to members of the classic generation after a period of being for older horses only. The only three-year-old to stand his ground is No Needs Never who is already proven at the trip when winning twice for Joseph O'Brien last year, including a listed race at Dundalk, but he was disappointing on his final start.
Instead, the older horses look the group to concentrate on, and most interesting of those is Le Brivido who stands out on the pick of his form. However, that came nearly two years ago when he was trained in France by Andre Fabre, following a narrow defeat in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains with victory in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot. On his only start since, he disappointed when hot favourite for the Abernant Stakes over six furlongs at last year's Craven meeting. It will be fascinating to see how he fares with Aidan O'Brien this year, but he's clearly had his problems which means he's best watched on this occasion.
Last year's surprise Irish 2000 Guineas winner Romanised makes his reappearance here, but that classic win was well in advance of anything else he has achieved to date. Admittedly, this is a drop in class, but he has to concede weight away all round. Instead, last year's Gladness winner Psychedelic Funk makes plenty of appeal from the in-form yard of Ger Lyons. He needs to be forgiven a poor effort on his only other outing last year, but his win twelve months ago was his fourth from five starts at Naas (runner-up in the other one) and demonstrates that he can go well fresh, as well as proving his effectiveness on a soft surface.
Of the rest, Imaging represents another stable that's made a good start to the season, forming part of a four-timer for Dermot Weld when winning a listed race at Leopardstown last week. He's a danger with that recent run under his belt, while Smash Williams for Jim Bolger is another who has had the benefit of a recent run, finishing a close third to Sergei Prokofiev in a listed sprint at Navan.
Although the Alleged Stakes over a mile and a quarter is only a Group 3 contest, it has attracted some Group 1 winners from last season looking for a gentler start to their campaigns. Irish Derby winner Latrobe went on to finish a good second to Flag of Honour in the Irish St Leger, but he also went close to landing a Group 1 over this trip in Australia in the Mackinnon Stakes. It was probably a case of one run too many in Hong Kong after that, and this trip is more likely to suit him better than Flag of Honour who also makes his return here.
Magical is Aidan O'Brien's other entry, and if she returns in anything like the sort of form in which she ended her three-year-old campaign, she'll be the one to beat. She improved a good deal once stepped up in trip, winning the Fillies' And Mares' Stakes at Ascot before a still better effort in defeat when running Enable to less than a length in the Breeders' Cup Turf in which they pulled a long way clear.
Hazapour doesn't boast quite the same level of form as those Group 1 winners, the Derby trip stretching his stamina when he was fifth at Epsom, but he's lightly raced enough to think there might be more to come from him for Dermot Weld this year. However, the biggest danger to Magical could come from Mustajeer who would be getting weight from all those mentioned so far. This is a step up in grade for him, and like some of his rivals, this trip is on the short side for one who finished fourth in the Ebor, but he was most impressive when signing off last season by winning a listed race over a mile and a half at this course by six and a half lengths.
Among the others, Success Days should have conditions to suit but doesn't seem as good as he once was, whereas Still Standing for Jessica Harrington is both progressive and race-fit as he showed when returning with a course-and-distance success in a listed race last month, but he needs to find further improvement to trouble the bigger names.