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Oxx tips Rock to go for Ascot gold

JOHN OXX believes Saddler's Rock has the right credentials to develop into a contender for the Ascot Gold Cup.

The three-year-old showed plenty of the qualities needed when taking the scalp of seasoned stayer Opinion Poll in the Doncaster Cup on Friday.

"We fancied him for the race," Oxx said. "He had a really good run in the Irish St Leger trial at the Curragh a few weeks earlier.

"He was quite unlucky there and that was the race that opened our eyes to that possibility.

"We knew he would stay two miles well and hoped he'd get the extra bit.

"He's a horse with a turn of foot. When he gets a crack with the whip, he takes off. As soon as he got that he changed gear and off he went to win.

"He's a good horse and I think he'll be an Ascot Gold Cup contender. He may not run anymore this year.

"He hasn't got too many entries. He's in the Group Two on Arc Saturday, but he's a Sadler's Wells, who likes good, fast ground.


"He doesn't seem to handle the soft. He didn't last springtime when we tried him on it.

"Time will tell, maybe he will handle soft better as he gets older, but it's a little unusual he likes top of the ground, but he's tailor-made for the Ascot Gold Cup."

Oxx is refusing to get too carried away with the performance of Sea The Stars' half-brother Born To Sea, who made a successful debut at the Curragh.

Carrying the same colours as the six-time Group One winner, Born To Sea got off the mark in the Listed Blenheim Stakes on Saturday.

Sore shins delayed his first racecourse appearance and it will be another seven weeks before he is back in action, with the Group Three Killavullan Stakes over seven furlongs at Leopardstown on October 30 being the target.

"It was a good effort for a horse having his first run and beating horses rated in the high 90s," Oxx said.

"It was nice to see him run over 100 on his first start, it was a pretty good start for any horse. He's got a bit of talent and is bred to have it.

"He'd been showing us that in his work. We didn't really fire him up to win the first time.

"He goes through softish ground quite well but he should handle good in due course.

"I don't want to run him over a mile yet. He ran over six furlongs on Saturday and we'll keep him at six or seven furlongs for the moment. Seven would be ideal so we'll probably wait for the Killavullan Stakes at the end of October.

"It's a little bit of a wait. I would have preferred if we had another race after a month or something like that, but we've been shoved back by some shin soreness and started later than we expected.

"It means we have no race to run in until October 30 at Leopardstown, a Group Three and a nice race, but we have to wait seven weeks for it."