Oxx primed to click into gear with Mourani
A grand total of one winner to date constitutes a sluggish start to the Flat campaign for John Oxx, but the peerless Currabeg handler is trusted to land tomorrow's nap with Mourani at Navan.
His three-year-old Dalakhani colt stepped up on its two juvenile performances in first-time blinkers at Leopardstown last week, striding out all the way to the line to get to within three-parts of a length of the useful Ralston Road.
As a brother to stout stayers Mourilyan and Mourayan, Declan McDonogh's mount will appreciate the slight step up in trip to a mile and five furlongs in this relatively average three-year-old maiden.
With that in mind, Mourani should prove hard to beat if he comes on any bit for last week's run, when Ballydoyle's Plinth was a couple of lengths further back in third, having had the benefit of a run. Plinth reopposes here, but Paul Deegan's Bint Nayef is possibly a more potent threat on its initial turf start.
Second on its two previous runs at Dundalk, the well-bred Nayef filly had the dual subsequent winner Just Pretending back in third at the all-weather facility last month. She clearly has ability, but could have plenty on here against a capable colt.
The €44,500 Vintage Crop Stakes promises to be an intriguing feature event, with El Salvador and Voleuse De Coeurs, first and second at Limerick last month, facing off once more. Jessica Harrington's versatile Steps To Freedom and Mick Winters' game Missunited add further depth to the mile-and-six-furlong Listed affair.
Still, a chance is taken on Voleuse De Coeurs (pictured below) turning the tables on El Salvador to thwart the Aidan O'Brien-trained colt's quest for a four-timer.
Dermot Weld's improving filly bloomed to sluice up at the Galway Festival and also in the Irish Cesarewitch last year, and her Limerick defeat was a commendable one given her race-fit conqueror's profile.
She has two-odd lengths to find off three pounds better terms under Pat Smullen now, a deficit that could be overcome if she strips a fraction fitter.
Stubbs, third on its Curragh bow in March, could land a blow for the O'Brien team in the two-year-old race, likewise Point Piper in the concluding maiden. In the five-furlong handicaps, Deegan is the man to follow. His Ronan Whelan-ridden Srucahan has solid claims in the older horses' version, with Is Feider Leis particularly interesting for the up-and-coming Curragh stable in the three-year-old edition.
A much improved third on its Tipperary reappearance over this trip, the Moss Vale gelding's form has been complemented to varying degrees by Cookie Crumbles and September Lily in the meantime.
Over jumps at Limerick, Our Victoria appeals as a more reliable proposition to the suspect Tarla in the mares' chase, while her jockey Andrew McNamara also has live claims on Lough Roe Lady. Philip Byrne's mare takes on the boys in the Supermacs Dooradoyle Beginners' Chase, having finished third to the very useful Caoimhe's Delight on her first stab at fences in Kilbeggan.
She will need to step up on that here, but she has the scope to do so on testing ground, and she will cope with that better than most.