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Born To Sea sails into the unknown

It was three years to the day yesterday that John Oxx won the English 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket with the subsequently all-conquering Sea The Stars.

He was a mildly fancied 8/1 shot on that occasion as Oxx proved just how capable he is at preparing one for the biggest of stages, and while it would be simply foolish of one to expect something similar to Sea The Stars this coming weekend, don't be surprised if Oxx can have a major say in the first Classic of the season.

Born To Sea, who is, of course, a half-brother to the aforementioned Sea The Stars, will make his seasonal debut over Newmarket's Rowley Mile on Saturday afternoon and while he is the current second favourite for the race, the three-year-old's trainer feels he is going into the unknown.

Oxx said: "Everything has gone very well with him and he's had a trouble-free run. He's enjoyed a good winter, hasn't missed any time at all since mid-December and he's as fit as we can have him for his first run."

Born To Sea carries the same colours of Christopher Tsui as Sea The Stars did before him and the son of Invincible Spirit will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways after finishing second on his final start of last season.

"It's always a toughish preparation to get a horse ready for a Classic at the beginning of May without giving them a prep race, but we decided against a trial run," Oxx revealed.

"He's not experienced but is a pretty sharp sort of horse and doesn't seem to be very green.

"He's as fit as we can get him and we think he's pretty ready."

After opening his account on his debut at the Curragh last September, Born To Sea was then overturned when 8/11 favourite in the Group Three Killavullen Stakes at Leopardstown.

Aidan O'Brien's Nephrite obliged on that occasion. However, the favourite was found to be lame post race by Oxx and there seemed a valid excuse for his narrow length-and-a-half defeat.

The ground has dried out from soft to good to soft at Newmarket, but rain due could see it ease again, although that isn't a major concern for the master of Curraghbeg.

"He's fairly adaptable ground wise, but he's a horse who's unproven and we don't know an awful lot about him yet," said O'Brien.

"He's won over six furlongs so I supposed I'd have preferred fast ground rather than slow ground because he has to get the mile. We'd prefer it wasn't a real slog but will have to take whatever comes."

Sea The Stars won over a mile, mile-and-a-quarter and mile-and-a-half in his three-year-old season. However, tilts at the Derby or the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe are unlikely for Born To Sea.

"We don't look on him as a stayer. You don't see many of Invincible Spirit's stock winning races at longer than a mile or 10 furlongs. I don't think you've ever seen a good winner by him over a mile-and-a-half.

"We look on him as a miler but to start the year off we'd have preferred a mile on better ground just to make sure he had a better chance of getting the trip. Long term I don't think a mile will be a problem."

Oxx concluded: "We don't know what we have. We know he's a smart horse and has some of his brother's ability. We think he's capable of running a decent race but we don't actually know how good he is. We'll have to wait for the race to unfold to get some answers.

"It looks a good 2000 Guineas, all the best horses are there, everyone is taking Camelot on. It will be a very competitive whatever wins will be a very good horse."