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Oxx hopes to Sea improvement at Ascot

JOHN OXX has earmarked the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot next month as the next outing for Born To Sea (pictured), who finished fifth in last Saturday's Abu Dhabi Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh.

The well-fancied half-brother to Sea The Stars built on his poor Newmarket run and arguably finished better than anything else in the first Irish Classic of the season, which was won by the Aidan O'Brien-trained Power, and Oxx was happy with how he fared out.

"He's come out of the race fine and while we were a bit disappointed at first that he couldn't finish a bit closer, I think you'd have to be happy as it was a step in the right direction after Newmarket.

"Obviously, after what happened (at Newmarket), we had to try to get him to settle and I'm pleased he was able to do that."

Having raced keenly at Newmarket, Oxx raced Born To Sea in a cross noseband and a hood to help him settle better, which he clearly appeared to do under Pat Smullen.

"The jockey was obviously determined to get him settled and from stall one, I wasn't surprised he ended up last early on. He then ended up a bit detached before coming home like a train and in the end he was only beaten two-and-a-half lengths."

Oxx admitted: "As things worked out he was a bit too far back, but I think there are more positives than negatives to take from the race and we'll look towards the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot next.

"We know now that he stays a mile well and might even get a bit further. I think he's learning all the time and hopefully things work out a bit better for him at Ascot."

Similar tactics will be deployed at Ascot for Born To Sea and the trainer confirmed: "We'll definitely keep the hood on him next time. That seemed to work well so I don't think there's much point taking it off him now, although I'm not sure he'll need it forever."