The sprinters' division is especially strong right now and horses who, in many years, would have been good enough to take high rank, will struggle to compile an eye-catching CV. This will make the enhanced three-year-old sprint programme especially important as a testing ground for up-and-coming speedsters, giving them a chance to gain experience and build a profile before being pitched in at the very top.
Invincible Army already has plenty of racing experience, albeit entirely against his own age group, and it will be interesting to see how he gets on when moving into open company later in the year.
Short-headed by Masar in a six-furlong Goodwood maiden in late May of his juvenile year, he ran away with a similar contest at Newmarket before disappointing in fourth behind Cardsharp in the Group 2 July Stakes at the same venue.
He chased home Havana Grey in the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes on soft ground at Goodwood and Sands Of Mali on good ground in the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes, beat Corinthia Knight by a length and a half to take the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes on the polytrack at Kempton, and then finished a three-quarter-length second to James Garfield in the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury.
With what some of those rivals have already achieved in 2018, that form – which earned him a Timeform rating of 112 – still looks good. It will also catch the eye on advertisements for a likely future stallion career for the son of leading international sire Invincible Spirit (by Green Desert).
The James Tate-trained colt made his seasonal reappearance at Ascot on Wednesday, and although it remains to be seen exactly what he achieved in beating the lightly-raced pair Eqtidaar and Enjazaat easily in the Group 3 Merriebelle Stable Pavilion Stakes over six furlongs on soft, it looked promising.
Invincible Army was bred by Rabbah Bloodstock Ltd and he is a half-brother to Master Rajeem (by Street Cry), who bypassed the flat and has won at up to three miles, two and a half furlongs over fences. Despite that stamina, however, the distaff side of the family is mostly about six to 10-furlong talent, starting with the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes victory of his dam, Rajeem (by Diktat).
She is the best of three winners out of Magic Sister, and although that mare was only placed, the daughter of Cadeaux Genereux (by Young Generation) is a full-sister to Hoh Magic, who was Europe's juvenile filly champion of 1994 after wins in the Group 1 Prix Morny, Group 3 Molecomb Stakes and Listed Dragon Trophy.
She was runner-up in the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes first time out at three, finished fourth to Harayir in the Group 1 1000 Guineas, and then took third to Lake Coniston in the Group 1 July Cup. Timeform rated her 111 at two and 108 at three.
Gunner's Belle (by Gunner B), the third dam of Invincible Army, won three times at up to 10 furlongs and was among nine successful offspring – who won between three to 18 races apiece – out of triple scorer Crimson Belle (by Red God), with the brightest star among them being Crimson Beau (by High Line).
He won the Group 2 Prince of Wales's Stakes, Group 3 Prix de la Cote Normande and Listed Extel Handicap, he was runner-up to Troy in the Group 1 Benson & Hedges Gold Cup (now Juddmonte International Stakes) and to Dicken's Hill in the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse Stakes, and earned a Timeform rating of 124.
From what we have seen of him so far, Invincible Army appears to be a talented sprinter. He holds entries in next month's Group 1 Commonwealth Cup and Group 1 King's Stand Stakes at Ascot, and has likely already done more than enough to have attracted the attention of a few stud farms.
It is likely that he will be kept to five and six furlongs, but given that his dam won a Group 1 over a mile, that Hoh Magic stayed that trip and that Crimson Beau is in the family too, it would be interesting to see how he might get on if asked to try seven furlongs, or even a mile.