Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 19 November 2017

Berry-Oxx partnership targeting Navan glory

Damien McElroy

The season's leading rider Fran Berry and reigning champion Johnny Murtagh both head to Navan tomorrow rather than the rival Flat fixture at Gowran Park as the weather threatens to break overnight.

Watering has already been utilised at the Kilkenny venue, where the official going was described as good to firm at yesterday's declaration deadline, with the ground reported a little better at Navan.

An end to the prolonged dry spell might be no harm in these circumstances and the Navan session holds centre stage, with both the Vintage Crop Stakes and the Salsabil Stakes carrying Listed status.

English trainer Alan Swinbank makes a rare Irish sortie for the race commemorating Dermot Weld's first Melbourne Cup hero Vintage Crop, with Merchant Of Dubai in the hands of Dublin-born Robert Winston.

This son of Dubai Destination is attempting a hat-trick at the Meath venue as Winston was in the saddle when the horse collected over a mile and a half on the all-weather at Wolverhampton and in Doncaster.

It will be disappointing for the local talent however if either of the classy pair Grace O'Malley or Roses For The Lady, at opposite ends of the weight scale, don't manage to cope with the Swinbank competitor.

John Oxx's Roses For The Lady, in particular, has a fine chance to enhance her paddock value.

The following Salsabil Stakes for fillies could be another worthwhile affair for the flourishing Oxx-Fran Berry partnership, as Hazarafa made it third time lucky at Leopardstown on her seasonal debut.

The Aga Khan's daughter of Daylami was impressive that day and could have an edge in match fitness over Sense Of Purpose.

Former champion Declan McDonogh and Kevin Manning compete at Gowran Park and they could share a five-winner bonanza, with Declan fancied for an early treble on Baglioni, Hepburn and Brazilian Beauty.

Irish Independent

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