Native Trail sets a clear standard in the Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas on Saturday (15:20) and it's really just a case of whether you want to take him or not.
He arguably could be called an unlucky loser when runner-up in the Newmarket equivalent (raced on a different part of the track to the pair he split), but for which he'd be coming here unbeaten. I thought that was a tremendous effort but there's just something about this big colt that makes me have long-term doubts over him.
On a recent podcast, I referred to him as 'gawky', almost like he can't get that big frame organised quickly enough to get himself racing at full tilt at times.
In fairness, despite winning there three times (including once on the July course), I'm of the opinion that Newmarket doesn't really play to Native Trail's strengths - he seems to get a little lost in the dip before finding full stride coming out of it.
The Curragh is a much more conventional track and I don't think it's any surprise that he produced probably his most impressive performance there, slamming Point Lonsdale in the National Stakes last season.
What about the opposition?
Cases can be made for Buckaroo and Ivy League in particular, but they both need to improve markedly on what they've achieved so far if they're to get close to an on-song Native Trail.
Outside of that pair, it's a struggle to see anything else getting too involved, though it's worth noting that Wexford Native is well regarded in the Bolger camp, albeit he has plenty of ground to make up with Buckaroo on their running in a C&D listed race earlier this month.
In short, Native Trail should win, but I'm not telling you anything there you don't already know, his current price of 1.392/5 making that abundantly clear.
Forecast players might want to mess around with Buckaroo and Ivy League underneath him if trying to chisel out a bit of value, though it's not a race I'll be getting involved with.
Tough to go against Talk in juvenile event
We get to see two of the best juveniles seen so far this season going head-to-head in the Group 3 Gain Marble Hill Stakes (14:10) earlier in the card, with the market struggling to split Blackbeard and Tough Talk.
However, I'm firmly in the latter's camp given how much he achieved when beating a pair of subsequent winners over this C&D on debut last month.
History tells us that juveniles who hit a Timeform rating of 100+ first time out invariably go on to be Group-class performers, and the 105 that Tough Talk posted on debut was an exceptional performance for the time of year.
It's not often two-year-olds run to that sort of level so early in the season and I suspect Tough Talk is a young horse we will still be talking about in glowing terms come the better juvenile contests from mid-summer onwards.
Blackbeard has done nothing wrong in winning his first two starts, particularly as he's shaped like 5f is a bare minimum for him. He looks sure to be suited by stepping up to 6f here, though the suspicion is he may be bumping into a well-above-average rival in Tough Talk.
A Case Of You may simply be too good
If A Case Of You is none the worse for his Meydan exertions in late March he'll take plenty of stopping in the Group 2 Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes at 14:45.
Ado McGuinness' colt did nothing but improve last year, culminating in a Group 1 win in the Abbaye at Longchamp before finishing a very creditable fifth to arguably the world's fastest sprinter Golden Pal at the Breeders' Cup in November.
A Case Of You recorded another top-level win on his most recent start, producing a career best when beating Happy Romance and Man Of Promise in the Al Quoz Sprint out in the desert.
I have to admit to being somewhat surprised at seeing 3.55/2 readily available for him in this contest, with his best form marking him out as very much the one to beat.
Hopefully he isn't a little undercooked coming out of the Dubai race, particularly as he'll have bigger fish to fry throughout the season. I think it's worth taking a chance that he's ready to do himself justice at the current prices.
Murtagh's Mashhoor on a fair mark
The William Hill Premier Handicap at 16:30 has a fiendish look to it, as you'd expect with nearly 30 grand up for grabs, but I was keen to be with Mashhoor, who's relatively unexposed and runs for just the second time in the care of Johnny Murtagh.
Trained last year by Sir Michael Stoute, the son of Kingman won a novice at Nottingham before acquitting himself well in a couple of small-field handicaps later in the season.
He looked to have retained plenty of ability when starting out for his new yard in a big-field handicap at Cork on his return (also having been gelded), going through the race like one on a good mark before a lack of peak fitness seemed to tell late on.
I suspect he's still got plenty of room for manoeuvre off a perch of 87, and the likely strong pace in this competitive race should play to his strengths.