| 9.3°C Dublin

Injured Blanco is comfortable

Aidan O'Brien has reported impressive Dante Stakes winner Cape Blanco to be "comfortable" after his impressive win at York.

There was plenty of controversy in the aftermath of the race when Cape Blanco was said to be lame and O'Brien refused a request from the vet at York to trot the horse up.

The Ballydoyle handler had said earlier in the week that Cape Blanco had picked up a minor injury on his heel, and it appears the three-year-old knocked the same area again in winning the race.

"We were delighted with Cape Blanco's win in the Dante at York," he said.

"He travelled very easily throughout the race and quickened up well when Johnny (Murtagh) asked him.

"Unfortunately, he knocked his heel again in the race and was very sore on it. However, he walked out yesterday and seems much more comfortable."

Criquette Head-Maarek bids to land an audacious English/French 1000 Guineas double for the second time in her training career when she saddles Special Duty at Longchamp tomorrow.

The French trainer took both Classics with Ravinella in 1988 and is happy to go for the Poule D'Essai Des Pouliches with Special Duty.

She is back on home soil after being awarded the Newmarket Classic in the stewards' room after finishing a nose behind Jacqueline Quest.

"I did the Guineas double with Ravinella and they are quite similar, both honest horses, of small size with a big heart and are big fighters," she said.

"This filly showed plenty of battling qualities at Newmarket and I hope she can do so again. She's fine, looks well, so we are going to go to Longchamp.

"She seems to have taken the race at Newmarket very well.

"We are drawn 10 out of 10 on Sunday. That's not the best draw because the mile start at Longchamp is very close to the turn. That won't be an excuse. If she's well enough she has a good chance."

Aviate's victory in the Musidora Stakes at York this week appears to have shot her to the top of Henry Cecil's impressive squad for the Investec Oaks.

Stablemate Timepiece was winter favourite for the Classic and, despite the legendary trainer talking of her in glowing terms recently, she has lost both her races this season.

Meanwhile, Aviate remains unbeaten and Principal Role landed the Swettenham Stud Fillies' Trial at Newbury to throw her hat back into the ring having finished fourth in the Pretty Polly Stakes.

Prince Khalid Abdullah own all three.

"We're in a good position and it's fortunate that all three fillies are in the same stable and Henry will be able to sort them all out," said Abdullah's racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe.

"It's very unlikely all three will run in the Oaks. This is not living gospel but Aviate would appear to be the first choice at the moment.

"Principal Role would be more of a Ribblesdale filly, but Henry still hasn't lost faith in Timepiece."

Mark Johnston's 2000 Guineas disappointment, Awzaan, is unlikely to be seen until the second half of the season.

The Middle Park winner was never going at Newmarket and trailed in 15th of the 19 runners.

Thankfully for connections, a plausible reason was found for the run when he was diagnosed with a bacterial infection. However, Ascot may come too soon for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's colt.

"He's had a bacterial infection. I was misquoted recently when somebody said Ascot was the target, I actually said it would be Ascot at the earliest that we saw him," said Johnston.

"I would actually think it would be longer than that before you see him back, probably the second half of the season."

Johnston had better news of Pretty Polly winner Marie De Medici, although a definite target has still to be confirmed for the filly.

"She's got lots of entries, including the Epsom Oaks, so we are just keeping an open mind," he added. "She's held entries in other Listed races and so on but we hope we might be talking about bigger with her. It's a very open year."