Wednesday 13 December 2017

Sharestan digs deep to trigger Oxx double

John Oxx. Photo: Getty Images
John Oxx. Photo: Getty Images

Thomas Kelly

JOHN Oxx will aim the Aga Khan's Sharestan at Group company after the colt took yesterday's Coolmore Stud Silver Stakes at the Curragh.

The four-year-old colt battled to victory over Defining Year in the Listed contest, although Oxx felt the heavy ground tested his stamina. Defining Year made a brave bid to lead all the way and he had most of his rivals hard at work when the race heated up two furlongs out.

However, the lightly raced Sharestan made his move under Niall McCullagh, who was replacing the suspended Johnny Murtagh, and the 8/11 favourite had to work pretty hard to win by half a length.

"It's very gluey ground in the straight and it's probably the limit of his stamina. Maybe he'll be better coming back in distance," Oxx reflected. "He was suited maybe by the slow fractions of the race and just managed to grind it out. I'm not sure if it's his ideal trip, but he's done it quite well and is more versatile than I thought earlier in the year.

"I wouldn't run him over a mile-and-a-quarter again on testing ground. I think we'd wait for good ground over that trip.

"There are a couple of options for him back here on Irish Derby weekend. There's a Group Three, the International, over a mile-and-a-quarter and a Listed race over a mile, so that's a possibility in three weeks' time."

Oxx and the Aga Khan completed a quick double when Vedani made all to take the 10-furlong maiden and hold An Saincheann by a head.

"He stayed on well and got through the ground," observed Oxx. "He will like a mile-and-a-half and a bit better ground. We'll get a handicap mark for him now and see where we will go."

Vedani's rider Ben Curtis made it a double of his own when steering the Andrew Tinkler-owned favourite Ursa Major to victory for Tommy Carmody in the Chinese Irish Cultural Academy Handicap.

Gale Force Ten stepped up on his Dundalk debut run to capture the opening juvenile maiden.

Third three weeks ago, the Aidan O'Brien-trained youngster showed the benefit of that outing with a professional performance to beat Leitir Mor by three-quarters of a length in the hands of son Joseph.

Pleasantly

"We are delighted. The ground was a big worry and I'm pleasantly surprised he went on it," said the Ballydoyle supremo. "We think he might be a Royal Ascot horse and we will look at the Windsor Castle or the Norfolk."

Paul Deegan's Alsium foiled a gamble on Cape Of Approval when proving a neck too good in a six-furlong maiden under Chris Hayes. "I hope there is more to come," said Deegan. "We won't be afraid to drop her back to five furlongs but we'll see how she takes this and she how she is on physically and mentally."

Kateeva struck for permit holder JP Fogarty and 5lb claimer Leigh Roche in the six-furlong handicap, while Jim Bolger and Ronan Cleary took the concluding fillies' handicap with Livia Galilei.

Irish Independent

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