Monday 11 December 2017

Alanza ready to strike for Oxx

Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Getty Images
Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Getty Images

Thomas Kelly

THERE are two Group Three contests on tomorrow's card at Leopardstown and, for once, Aidan O'Brien is unlikely to have the favourite for either race.

In the Ballycorus Stakes over seven furlongs, the Ballydoyle maestro saddles the consistent Empowering but this one hasn't run since finishing third to Handassa last October and is likely to benefit from the outing.

A much more reliable proposition is Alanza, which made an encouraging comeback when third behind the Royal Ascot-bound Emulous at The Curragh.

While John Oxx's four-year-old has ground to make up on the runner-up on that occasion, One Spirit (which has since scored at Listed level), the Aga Khan-owned filly should find sufficient improvement and can prove too strong for English raider Rodrigo De Torres.

The one word of warning from the trainer is the state of ground, currently reported as good.

"The big factor will be the weather. There is rain forecast but hopefully it will not come until later in the evening," said Oxx.

As for the six-furlong Ballyogan Stakes, O'Brien also saddles just the one runner in the shape of After, which finished fifth to Samitar in last month's 1,000 Guineas.

Prior to that, After finished one place in front of Fire Lily when the pair were fourth and fifth in the French equivalent, but this two-furlong shorter contest should benefit Fire Lily more although David Wachman's filly barely rose a gallop when sixth to Tiddliwinks at The Curragh.

In any case, the vote goes to Ger Lyons' Lightening Pearl which failed to sparkle in the English 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket -- where she probably failed to stay a mile on soft ground -- but as a winner of the Group One Cheveley Park last season, Kevin Manning's mount should be able to make her class tell.

O'Brien's best prospects of landing a winner come in the two juvenile contests. In the opening fillies' maiden, Delight is taken to make amends for failing to justify favouritism at Fairyhouse last week.

In the maiden for colts, the champion trainer takes the wraps off King Of The Romans, a half-brother to Dewhurst winner Beethoven, but this one may have to play second fiddle to Paul Deegan's course runner-up Desert Of Dreams.

Irish Independent

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