Sunday 18 February 2018

Oxx can double up at Curragh

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

JOHN OXX, whose Harasiya thrust herself into contention for next year's Classics with a superb performance at Leopardstown on Thursday, is taken to saddle two winners from his only two runners on this afternoon's Curragh spread.

Although the meeting survived a course inspection yesterday morning, the prevailing heavy ground has had a detrimental effect on the line-up for the featured KARE Minstrel Stakes over seven furlongs.

Just three runners have been declared for the €57,500 Group Three, with Oxx's Takar well clear of his two rivals on official ratings.

Successful in the Tetrarch Stakes over course and distance on his reappearance in May, Takar's only defeat in his last four starts came when he finished a disappointing fourth in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

However, he left that effort well behind when cruising through the mud to land a Listed race at Leopardstown a month ago, and neither Among Equals nor Singing Bird are likely to extend Johnny Murtagh's mount any further here.

Ebazan, yet another promising Aga Khan-owned prospect, is napped to take the concluding Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show Maiden for the Currabeg team.

Aidan O'Brien's Circle, placed in both its starts to date, has a squeak in this, while James Motherway's reappearing Authorization, third on its only outing at Cork in October, is another to watch.

Ebazan, though, boasts the strongest credentials. Just denied by Aklan -- an excellent second to Galileo's Choice on Thursday -- in a cracking maiden here over this 10-furlong trip back in April, his form is by far the best on offer.

Apart from Aklan, the fifth home Hartani -- another stablemate -- paid the form a huge compliment by completing a hat-trick in the Curragh Cup, while Livia Galilei, fourth on the day, has also since won. Given that both were well held by Ebazan, it's fair to assume that the Lemon Drop Kid colt will take all the beating now.

Murtagh should also go close on the Mick Halford-trained Slipper Orchid in the seven-furlong fillies' maiden, while Versilia Gal gets the nod in the nursery.

Representing the in-form Pat Martin, Versilia Gal was scoring for a second time in a row when beating Katchy Lady off level weights in similarly testing conditions at Navan in June.

With that in mind, it is intriguing that the handicapper has asked Katchy Lady to carry 3lb more than Versilia Gal now, an anomaly that Pat Smullen should be able to exploit.

Irish Independent

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