Sport Horse Racing

Monday 11 December 2017

Akeed potential puts spotlight back on Oxx


Early last year, just before the start of the 2010 Flat season, John Oxx was invited to an awards ceremony in Auteuil where Sea The Stars would be named France's horse of the year. The question was asked how he could follow on the next season after such a wonderful horse, and the loss of his stable jockey, Mick Kinane.

Oxx, in his calm and constructed way, spoke about the difficulty of the task that lay ahead. He went on to say that he wasn't expecting to be a big player in any of the big races, and that he wasn't expecting many phone calls and interviews of the kind he had to deal with the year before from May to October.

He was dead right. A tally of 43 winners was Oxx's poorest return from a season in 11 years. A serene calm after the storm may have been seen as a slight worry for some, but Oxx at this stage of his career knows how to take the bad with the good.

Besides, there was going to be a lot to look forward to. Reports from Giltown Stud were that the Sea The Stars' three-parts brother was coming along nicely and at home the likes of Alanza and Manieree were showing the potential for progression to bigger things in the long term. This year Oxx has already surpassed last season's tally with 46 winners at home, and two winners from two runners away from home at the Ebor meeting at York. More significantly, the Currabeg handler looks to have two potential Classic contenders for next year with the Sea The Stars' half-brother Born To Sea and Akeed Mofeed.

Today the latter-mentioned has his chance to further his reputation in the Group Two Beresford Stakes, a race that could be the most informative two-year-old race run in Ireland this season.

The inclusion of the Ballydoyle pair Furner's Green and David Livingston in the field, brings the formline from the National Stakes into a race that has become synonymous with producing future top class three-year-olds in the past.

Jim Bolger's Parish Hall also has form to tie in with the National Stakes, given that he finished second to the runner-up in that event, Dragon Pulse, on his most recent start. But it's likely that the majority of attention will be on Akeed Mofeed, which looks likely to go off at a very short price for this.

There was a lot to like about the way this son of Dubawi won on his previous run in an above average maiden at Leopardstown. He has the look of a typical Oxx two-year-old, in that he has been slow to come to hand and not been rushed.

For that reason, it's more than likely there will be more improvement to come and should he win today, it's foreseeable that he would rank alongside Power and Maybe at the top of the Irish two-year-old division. It's also significant that Oxx runs Akeed Mofeed in this particular race, given that he has saddled the likes of Alamshar, Azamour and the magnificent Sea The Stars to victory here in recent years.

Elsewhere on a decent card at The Curragh, Dermot Weld will be hoping his main hope Madhmoonah can take the CL Weld Park Stakes, a race run in memory of his father. The Curragh-based trainer has been enjoying a terrific season with 60 winners on the board.

He does, however, face tough opposition here in the form of the ever-growing Flat racing profile of Jessica Harrington, who runs both Princess Sinead and Remember Alexander. There doesn't look to be much between Harrington's pair, so given that Remember Alexander is forced to carry a three-pound penalty due to her Group Three win at Leopardstown, preference is for Fran Berry's amount, which is likely to be ridden prominently.

Other runners to note in a competitive-looking race are Kevin Prendergast's Coral Wave, and British raider Kinetica, which looks interesting here for Mark Prescott.

But without doubt, the Beresford Stakes will be the main point of focus for many today and should Akeed Mofeed justify favouritism, with Born To Sea due to run again next week, all eyes could once again be on Oxx.

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