Oxx's dual mandate
john oxx knows his chances of upsetting hot favourite Camelot in Saturday's Irish Derby are of the long-shot variety, but he still believes his two intended runners can make a mark.
The master of Currabeg was hoping to have three horses in the summer showpiece, but the team was reduced to two yesterday after Call To Battle was ruled out with a foot abscess.
Akeed Mofeed will be making his seasonal debut in the Curragh contest, while in contrast, stablemate Born To Sea will be his making fourth appearance of the year and his second inside 11 days having run fourth at Royal Ascot last week.
A half-brother to Oxx's imperious Sea The Stars, the son of Invincible Spirit was a keen traveller in the early part of the season, but his trainer feels he is settling better in his races which gives him a chance of staying the 12-furlong trip.
"He's going from strength to strength," said Oxx. "All the rain is a bit of a worry. I'd like to see him on a bit of fast ground, but he's got his brother's (Sea The Stars) constitution. He takes everything in and doesn't worry.
"He'll definitely like a mile-and-a-quarter, but going straight from a mile to a mile-and-a-half in one swoop is a bit risky. In the circumstances, we have to take a chance."
With stable jockey Johnny Murtagh set to be aboard Born To Sea, Niall McCullagh is likely to partner Akeed Mofeed, which he rides regularly on the gallops at Oxx's stables.
"That's the plan at the moment, unless things change in the next day," said McCullagh, who won the Doncaster Cup on the Oxx-trained Saddler's Rock last season.
"Hopefully it will work out. I know him well, he's a nice horse and he's back going quite well now."
Oxx reports that Akeed Mofeed is over the injury problems that have delayed his seasonal reappearance, but admits it has been a battle to get him ready for the race.
Akeed Mofeed showed his well-being yesterday morning when doing some light exercise on the nine-furlong all-weather round gallop.
"Twelve weeks ago next Tuesday he took his first lame step," said Oxx. "He was off for 17 days, and the Tuesday before the Derrinstown Derby Trial he pulled a muscle and was off for three weeks.
"It's not been a great preparation and he's had a tough regime to get him ready.
"He's taken the work well and did a hard bit of work on Tuesday.
"We've always liked him. I hope he's fit enough to run a big race. I'd be disappointed if he doesn't prove to be a good one. We've never run a horse first time out in the Derby.
"It's not an ideal situation, but probably the worst thing that can happen is that he'll get tired. Hopefully, we'll learn from it."
Meanwhile, Ger Lyons is considering whether to let Piri Wango return to the track at the Curragh this weekend following his fine run in defeat at Royal Ascot.
The unexposed three-year-old was the trainer's only representative at the summer showpiece meeting and he ran with plenty of credit to finish fifth in the Britannia Stakes.
Given the speed he showed to take the lead over a mile, Lyons is keen to try his charge back over six furlongs, with Saturday's Paddy Power Sprint the first option.
"There's a chance he'll run this weekend, as long as the ground stays not too bad," said Lyons.
"There's a lovely three-year-old handicap at Newmarket coming up on July 13, so that's a viable option for him as well.
"He's won his maiden over six furlongs and being by Choisir, he's showing a lot of speed and a lot of quality.
"It's worth having a go at one of those big pots over six furlongs as he's breaking very quickly.
"The plan at Ascot was to take a lead but he jumps very free and if I can teach him to settle in and take a lead, he'll be a very smart horse.
"It was a huge run last week and if the rain hadn't turned up that morning, he'd have been in the (first) three."