Alanza can rise to occasion for Oxx
Maybe and Alanza, two talented fillies with markedly different profiles, will today endeavour to bring an end to Irish raiders' miserable record in the Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes.
A Group One since 2004, there has been no Irish-trained winner of the one-mile Newmarket feature since Rose Above scored for Michael Cunningham and a young Willie Carson in 1959, with John Oxx's Arch Swing, third in 2007, as close as any have managed in recent years.
This time, Oxx relies on the four-year-old Alanza, a late-maturing type that impressed when completing a hat-trick in a Doncaster Group Three last September.
On her final start in 2011, despite being at a disadvantage due to her draw, she boxed on well to be beaten four lengths in the Sun Chariot Stakes on the Rowley course. That was no bad effort on her first tilt at this level, and her comfortable recent victory over Wednesday's decent Naas winner Marvada suggested that she might not be done improving yet.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Maybe, on the other hand, was a precocious sort that went through her juvenile campaign unbeaten in five starts. However, the Group One-winning filly has failed to build on that potential in the 2,000 Guineas and the Oaks this term.
Given the question marks surrounding the three-year-old crop and the concerns about whether she has trained on, not to mention some disappointing runs from several fancied Ballydoyle runners of late, you couldn't recommend Ryan Moore's mount with any confidence. On paper, then, Andre Fabre's Golden Lilac, a three-time Group One winner that has been beaten just once in five starts, has the best credentials, but Alanza might still be worth an each-way poke at generous odds of up to 16/1.
If some of yesterday's results are anything to go by, she looks more favourably drawn in stall one, so it could be unwise to underestimate her under Johnny Murtagh. On a busy day for the travelling contingent, there are others with live chances too.
O'Brien and his son Joseph team up with the promising Afonso De Sousa in the two-year-old maiden.
A half-brother to Big Brown, winner of the first two Triple Crown Classics in America four years ago, Afonso De Sousa was third in a decent Curragh maiden last month, so it will be something of a surprise if he doesn't progress from that now.
Earlier, Tyrone-based Andy Oliver, whose team has been flying, saddles Sendmylovetorose in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cherry Hinton. A facile Navan maiden winner, the Bahamian Bounty filly sluiced up in the Group Three Grangecon Stud Stakes in testing going at the Curragh.
If nothing else, then, Colm O'Donoghue's partner will relish the slow conditions, and it will be fascinating to see how she fares stepped up in grade.
Ger Lyons' Piri Wango also has plenty going for him in the valuable six-furlong handicap. A commendable sixth for Frankie Dettori in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot when he appeared not to stay a mile, the imposing three-year-old reverts to six furlongs now. On rain-softened ground and with Dettori up again, Piri Wango should give you a decent run for your money at generous double-figure odds.
1.20 Perfect Step
1.50 Piri Wango
3.35 Afonso De Sousa
4.10 Awake My Soul