Thursday 14 December 2017

'Battle' set to show Oxx his Epsom credentials

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

John Oxx and Aidan O'Brien saddle two of the five runners in this afternoon's Chester Vase.

An Epsom Derby trial that came as close to throwing up its first winner of the chief Classic as it had for more than 20 years when O'Brien's Treasure Beach just failed to fend off Pour Moi in 2011, the mile and a half Group Three doesn't feature any of the market principals for next month's showpiece.

Still, that doesn't mean that there aren't a few decent prospects on duty.

Oxx's Call To Battle and O'Brien's David Livingston represent the Ballysax form, a race that has already been complimented by the fourth home, Athens, winning at Navan.

While it would be dangerous to assume that Call To Battle, a few lengths clear of David Livingston when second to Light Heavy at Leopardstown, will confirm that superiority now given the way the Ballydoyle horses can improve for a run, he might still be the one to keep on side. Oxx chooses his cross-channel forays selectively, and this King's Best colt, twice a winner from three starts at two, kept on well to the line on his reappearance.

Over a couple of furlongs further now and with slow ground likely to suit, he can oblige for Johnny Murtagh.

Having denied Oxx's well-regarded Akeed Mofeed -- who was yesterday declared doubtful for Sunday's trial -- in a heavy ground Group Two in September, David Livingston is obviously a serious threat as O'Brien goes in search of his fourth win in this since 2007.

Of the home trio, Charlie Hills' Model Pupil battled well to score at Newbury last month, and that form has worked out really well since.

A strong case can also be made for the Ryan Moore-ridden Seanie, today's only other Irish raider in the subsequent handicap.

David Marnane's three-year-old has top weight, but he is a lightly-raced sort that will improve a bundle for his seasonal bow at Cork, when he raced keenly before hanging across the track.

Further down the line, Ger Lyons' 1,000 Guineas disappointment Lightening Pearl features alongside the likes of Excelebration, Power, Nephrite and Crusade from Ballydoyle as potential rivals to the Australian sprinting sensation Black Caviar in Newmarket's July Cup.

Eddie Lynam's Sole Power, a 100/1 winner of the Nunthorpe at York two years ago, was not among the entries for the July 14 Group One that were unveiled yesterday.

However, the Kyllachy five-year-old, second in a Dubai Group One in March, has been given the option of trying for back-to-back Temple Stakes victories at Haydock on May 26.

"If the ground is fast, he will be there," Lynam reported of his stable star, beaten just a head into third in the Abbaye at Longchamp in October.

"He did us proud in Dubai and we are very happy with him. The five furlongs at Haydock Park suits him and, as long as we don't get the Irish weather over there, he should be fine.

"His programme for this season is pretty simple, with three Group Ones in Europe -- the King's Stand Stakes (at Royal Ascot), the Nunthorpe and Prix de l'Abbaye."

Meanwhile, the Turf Club has announced that the sprint course at Cork racecourse in Mallow must pass an 8.0 inspection this morning ahead of tomorrow's card. The going on the round course is good to soft, but the straight track could be in trouble if the forecast rain arrives.

Should it fail the inspection, the five-furlong handicap would be cancelled, and the two six-furlong races would switch to the round course.

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