Tag Archives: John Oxx

The Irish Derby (Group 1)

Mike Dillon Of Ladbrokes studies Little White Cloud leaving the ring for The Derrinstown Stud Stakes

Mike Dillon Of Ladbrokes and Jim McGrath of Channel 4 Racing study Little White Cloud leaving the ring for The Derrinstown Stud Stakes. (Picture by Pattern Racing)                     Did they see an Irish Derby winner?

We’ll have a small but select field for this year’s Irish Derby.

That’s down to the decision in early June when Aidan O’Brien let it be known that Ruler Of The World would be aimed here. It was a great decision for the Curragh and consequently for the race. The clarity provided meant the Epsom Derby winner was there to be marketed by the course, for the public to look forward to and for other trainers to plan to beat him. Everyone a winner then.

At Epsom Ryan Moore had the mount and the race fell nicely into his hands. We all saw how it worked out for Dawn Approach, at the time that’s where our eyes were locked. Out of focus Ryan was gathering Ruler Of The World quietly to come with a withering run from off the pace winding him before letting him go to run cleanly to the line. Ruler Of The World beat Libertarian 1 1/4 L who had a short head to spare over Galileo Rock.

Ballydoyle also run one other in Festive Cheer who was employed as a pacemaker at Epsom where he trailed in tenth. Prior to that he had some smart from in the Prix Hocquart, a Group 2 Derby trial at Lonchamp where he went down a head third to Andre Fabre’s Tableaux.

Karl and Elaine Burke had won the Dante with Libertarian as a 33/1 shot and came close to proving that trial to be once again Epsom’s most reliable guide. Libertarian beat Jim Bolger’s Trading Leather 1 1/4 L at York. Jim then stepped back to a mile for the Irish Guineas and his colt ran a cracker when third to Magician beaten 5 L. The step back up in trip here is bound to suit him and he had a confidence booster last time out at Listed level where he accounted for Lines Of Battle, the UAE Derby winner by 3 L.

The interesting race and possibly most significant one was the one before the Dante where Libertarian ran in the Sandown Classic Trial. He was 8 L behind the horse in third, David Wachman’s Galileo Rock.

We haven’t seen the second or first from that race in April since.

The vanquished was an O’Brien trained colt Eye Of The Storm who was a head behind Patrick Predergast’s Sugar Boy who still won it cosy. The Prendergast colt was building on a run two weeks before in the Ballysax where he was 1 3/4 L behind Battle Of Marengo with Little White Cloud in third beaten 3 L.

The fascination of the race is now the ownership of Libertarian and Sugar Boy.

The former is now owed by Godolphin who not only wrote the cheque to buy the horse but spent another €75,000 on the supplementary fee. Sugar Boy has been purchased by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, a first cousin to Sheik Mohammed. You could interpret this as two deals done to take on Ballydoyle or two deals done to purchase the two best colt’s who have the opportunity to take on Ruler Of The World.

In the interwoven form these two stand out. Sugar Boy improved form the Ballysax to the Sandown Classic Trial. His trainer will believe he’ll improve again. Libertarian improved from Sandown to the Dante and again in the Derby. He wasn’t unlucky at Epsom but again he may continue to improve. Ballydoyle will no doubt believe Ruler Of The World has more to give also. Jim Bolger must have a tinge of regret he didn’t aim Trading Leather at Epsom while John Oxx has given Little White Cloud more time and knows how to win this race also.

It’s all in the mix, the boys in blue versus the Ballydoyle blue, first, second and third from Epsom, Bolger, Oxx and Prendergast. What more could you want. With thankfully good ground on the horizon we have a cracking Irish Derby to saviour.

It could taste sweetest of all for Sugar Boy.

Recommendation : Sugar Boy 9/1 e/w

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Tattersalls Gold Cup (Group 1) and The Irish 1000 Guineas (Group 1)

With no rain forecast the ground at the Curragh will remain firm, proper racing ground. Long may it continue.

Photo by Pattern Racing

Camelot gives Pattern Racing the eye.

Before the 1000 Guineas we get to see Camelot. He looked in good order before the Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh three weeks ago in the ring and the pipe opener proved just that coming from last to first to win easily. More of the same is expected in the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

The Qatar Racing filly Just The Judge leads the field in the Guineas on the back of her second to Sky Lantern in the English Guineas at Newmarket. She’s a quality filly having won the Rockfel last autumn. She’s supported on the overseas raid by Maureen from the Richard Hannon stable, sixth at Newmarket, Masarah from thee Clive Brittan stable, eighth at Newmarket and Exactement from the Karl and Elaine Burke yard whose companion Libertarian threw the surprise in the Dante at 33/1.

Of the Irish only Snow Queen contested the English Guineas. Ridden by Ryan Moore on that occasion she sliced through the field to finish well with an eye catching run. Ryan rides Hanky Panky here so presumably the second string with Seamus Heffernan on the Guineas trial winner Just Pretending who won out in a nice run when unsupported in the ring at Leopardstown.

The interesting fillies here are the Eddie Lynam trained Viztoria and the John Oxx pair What Style and Harasiya.

Viztoria was moved from the Ado McGuinness yard after a fine debut when she won her Naas maiden by 7 1/2 L. The concern for Eddie Lynam is the ground. His filly had stamped herself very decent when winning at Listed level beating Snow Queen also by 7 1/2 L here last September. She showed her well being when returning here to get the better of Bunairgead two weeks ago.

What Style has only run twice winning her maiden a 1/2 L from Snow Queen. Her comeback saw her run second to Rawaaq in the Leopardstown Guineas Trial confirming she’s trained on. We don’t know if that’s the same for Harasiya as this will be her first run of the season. Last time out in the Moyglare she went off favourite but couldn’t justify it when going down 2 3/4 L to Sky Lantern. The concern is the lack of the run but she’s one to keep an eye on after this.

On the balance of form using Snow Queen as the benchmark expect this to stay at home with Viztoria overcoming the those ground concerns and marking herself a special filly.

Recommendations : Camelot (too short to back)

                                             Viztoria 7/1 win

Derrinstown Stud Derby Trail (Group 2)

A Group 2 of some significance regarding the Epsom Derby market. Originally called the Nijinsky Stakes it has produced choice three year old’s Golden Fleece, Sadler’s Wells, St Jovite, Sinndar, Galileo, High Chaparral, Fame and Glory.

Battle Of Marengo looks to join this elite roll of honour and further strengthen the Irish hand on what already looks a tight grip on Epsom’s Blue Riband. He comes off a smooth Ballysax win where he had the measure of Sugar Boy (subsequently the Sandown Classic Trial winner). Add the Beresford win last year and you can see why the market rates second only to Dawn Approach.

He won’t have it all as easy as one would think as there’s some nice types in opposition. First Cornerstone is the only other to hold an Epsom entry here and Andrew Oliver’s colt proved himself decent when winning the G3 Futurity Stakes at the Curragh last year. He was then no match for Kingsbarns at Doncaster in the Racing Post going down 3 3/4 L.

Don’t Bother Me is unlikely to when it comes to the judge however he boxed above his weight to only go down 10 L to Dawn Approach in the Guineas.

We don’t know a lot about Little White Cloud except to say he’s in at the deep end. Two runs, the last at Dundalk in November give him a lot to do but then it is John Oxx who has sent him into battle. Respect.

The forgotten one from last year is Loch Garman. Left to mature until very late he went to Navan to record his debut victory on the last week of the Irish season. A week later he was in Paris to contest the G1 Criterium International at Saint Cloud. Turning for home he looked to be out of his depth when suddenly the penny dropped and he restlessly galloped home to the line. Questionable what he beat but the manner of his wearing down of those in front was impressive. We know Jim’s don’t need a run.

He can can a stir and green the Blue Riband even more for Coolcullen.

Recommendation : Loch Garman 4/1

The Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1)

I was there when Grandera pipped Hawk Wing by the slimmest of margins. When I walked out of the room in the top of the stand the hairs on the back of my neck had refused to go down. Distracted I walked too quickly bumping into an individual whose excitement levels were even higher than my own. With adrenalin pumping through my veins having witnessed a magnificent contest I just about got my head up to apologise to Sheik Mohammed.

That’s the capability of this race, it produces epic encounters in Indian summers. Galileo and Fantastic Light, High Chaparral and Falbrav.

This year Nathaniel comes to Leopardstown having won an Eclipse and going down so bravely in attempting to retain the King George when Danedream got the better by a nose. He displayed all the quality suggested in his maiden run when Frankel stretched a 1/2 L beyond him and maturity now only adds that extra ingredient to bring out the best in him.

Snow Fairy is an absolutely wonderful mare. Her classic season included two Oaks, Epsom and the Curragh as well as Group 1’s in Japan and Hong Kong. Last year was a little frustrating for connections having to wait until a return to Kyoto for the defence of the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup before registering her first win. She was also placed in the Nassau, here in the Irish Champion Stakes, the Arc and the Champion Stakes. This year she hit the ground running taking the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville three weeks ago from the Gosden inmate Izzi Top.

The home defence in a race where the home team have dominated over the last ten years falls to St Nicholas Abbey. Again he’s a cracker of a racehorse. Two Coronation Cups and a Breeders Cup Turf in the bag. Again maturity has played it’s part showing the quality displayed in winning the Racing Post Trophy as a two year old has stood the test of time. Granted we watched Frankel pass him as if he wasn’t there at York in the Juddmonte though he battled for second only to lose out by a nose to Farhh. He’s never won over 10f albeit his first real attempt was at York so its intriguing Aidan asks him to come out here for another crack at the distance.

Born To Sea disappointed behind Famous Name in the Royal Whip having previously improved from race to race. John Oxx will be hopping that was an aberration and he can return to the road of improvement. The 2 L defeat to Camelot on desperate Curragh ground in the Irish Derby was a very good performance where he had Light Heavy 9 L further adrift.

Daddy Long Legs began the year in great style nailing the UAE Derby at Meyden in March. A trip to Kentucky for the Derby backfired and he was brought back to headquarters for the Irish Guineas where he finished a 2 L fourth to Power. He was brought back to the States for the Secretariat where tactics didn’t work out and he finished last.

The sun has shone for more than a week over Leopardstown and with the moisture retained from the summer deluge we’re guaranteed a beautiful surface. This should set up an enthralling duel when they turn into the straight. A more prominently ridden St Nichloas Abbey off a strong pace will fight it out. With him on the bend will be a closely knit field . Nathaniel, Snow Fairy and Born To Sea will chase but pace will tell and on the run to the line the stretching St Nick will just hold off the by the shortest of margins the sustained effort of Snow Fairy.

Indian summers again. No Sheik Mo to bump into, pity.

Recommendation : St Nicholas Abbey 4/1 win