Sport Horse Racing

Friday 23 February 2018

Zanughan can shine for Oxx

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

John Oxx saddles two contenders in the Ardilaun Hotel Oyster Stakes at Galway this evening as he bids to secure the €32,500 Listed spoils for a third time in five years.

Having run well in a decent handicap at the Ballybrit venue last month, Celendine isn't without some hope under Ben Curtis, but the race conditions appear to favour Johnny Murtagh's chosen mount. A winner at Navan in April, Zanughan hasn't run since finishing fifth in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown in May.

In the context of today's opposition, that was a promising effort. As a three-year-old, he gets in here off 8st 13lbs, which should give him more than a fighting chance against similarly rated older rivals.

The Dermot Weld-trained Address Unknown, successful over two furlongs further than today's mile and a half journey at the July Festival, is rated three pounds superior to Zanughan, but must concede 10lbs here. Likewise, the 104-rated Steps To Freedom is three pounds worse off with the Azamour colt than he would be in a handicap.

The likes of Address Unknown and Steps To Freedom, a horse that continues to improve for Jessica Harrington, are more established campaigners. However, neither has quite the same potential as Zanughan.

Harrington, whose team is in fine form, might be the handler to side with in the Paschal Corrigan Memorial Handicap, for which she saddles the runaway Bellewstown winner Fairy Wing.

It is undoubtedly a competitive contest, but Fairy Wing wasn't scoring out of turn at Bellewstown.

He is a four-year-old that has come on markedly, so it is may be worth speculating that he is as progressive as he looks and can defy a 12lb ratings hike.

The day's nap selection is the hitherto frustrating Esporao in the opening maiden hurdle at Downpatrick.

Irish Independent

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