The pecking order among next year's Classic contenders at Ballydoyle is by no means set in stone but Aidan O'Brien's deployment of his embryonic talent over the weekend was rock- solid. Yesterday, in the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh, the trainer's David Livingston presumed to upset the odds on the highly regarded Akeed Mofeed. A day earlier, Daddy Long Legs led home a clean sweep for the O'Brien stable in the equivalent Group Two mile contest at Newmarket, the Royal Lodge Stakes.
Both victories were achieved in similar style, gallantly and determinedly from the front, but under very different conditions. The ground in Co Kildare was turned into a gruelling examination by rain; that on the Rowley Mile was quickened up by wind and sun. Under such extremes, any result may not be repeated on another day, in another race.
Those who had already hailed Akeed Mofeed as some sort of successor to his erstwhile John Oxx stablemate Sea The Stars will certainly hope that will apply in the case of the Irish contest. David Livingston's effort under Seamie Heffernan was entirely creditable; the clear lead he had established halfway down the straight was being eroded by Akeed Mofeed all the way to the line, but he kept digging deep and held his rival at bay, the pair a long way clear of another from Ballydoyle, Athens.
But the winner had experience on his side; yesterday was his fifth outing and he had already been tempered in the crucible of Group One company, when third to yet another stablemate, Power, in the National Stakes two weeks earlier. It was only the third appearance for Akeed Mofeed, who was stepping up from a maiden win, albeit an eye-catching one, and he showed his inexperience, becoming unbalanced in the deep ground as he started to launch his challenge.
The Beresford Stakes has a fine record as a spotlighter of talent, particularly from the stables involved yesterday; recent winners include St Nicholas Abbey, Sea The Stars himself, Septimus, Azamour and Alamshar. David Livingston, by Galileo out of a half-sister to High Chaparral, certainly has the pedigree to back up his prospects, but bookmakers say the better horse was second yesterday. Akeed Mofeed has eased in the Derby betting to 20-1, while David Livingston remains a 33-1 shot.
"He's a hardy horse," O'Brien said, "and that was a good performance to lead all the way on that ground. He quickened well in it, and if he was getting tired at the end, he was entitled to. It was tough going out there."
If David Livingston does explore further options this year, it is likely to be on European soil, perhaps in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster. But Daddy Long Legs, a son of the US dirt performer Scat Daddy, may go west. O'Brien sent Scat Daddy's sire Johannesburg to a famous victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and, in Kentucky in November, may try to repeat the feat 10 years and two generations on.
* Chris McGrath's Nap
West Brit (3.50 Ffos Las)
Beat two subsequent winners to take his maiden in good style, has proved himself in testing conditions and is likely to have more to offer.
* Next best
Slight Advantage (4.20 Ffos Las)
May have been slightly unlucky in a better contest at tricky Chester last time when checked in her run, and remains on the same mark.
* One to watch
Man Of Action, the 8-1 favourite for Saturday's Cambridgeshire, finished only 19th but had no luck in traffic.
* Where the money's going
Of the weekend's two top-level juvenile filly winners, Lyric Of Light made more impact in the 1,000 Guineas betting than Lightening Pearl.