NIALL McCULLAGH is likely to team up with Akeed Mofeed in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday.
McCullagh is Akeed Mofeed's regular work rider at John Oxx's Currabeg stables, and is pencilled in for the ride as Johnny Murtagh will be aboard Born To Sea should the half-brother to Sea The Stars take his chance.
"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. "I ride Akeed Mofeed regularly at Mr Oxx's yard. I'm well acquainted with the horse so I know him well.
"Fingers crossed that's my understanding unless circumstances change. Hopefully it will work out. I know him well, he's a nice horse and he's back going quite well now."
Oxx reports Akeed Mofeed over the injury problems that have delayed his seasonal reappearance, but admits it has been a battle to get him ready for the race. He said: "Twelve weeks ago next Tuesday he took his first lame step.
"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."
Born To Sea looks like taking his chance after being in action only last week at Royal Ascot, when fourth in the St James's Palace Stakes.
"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's thriving from race to race and putting on weight.
"I'll talk to the owners and make a final decision, but I expect he will run.
"This horse is quite settled now in his races and I think he can take another race.
"The opportunity is there to try him at a longer trip.
"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."
Oxx's third entry in the race, Call To Battle, has been ruled out with a foot abscess. "Call To Battle has a foot abscess. It's quite nasty and rules him out at the weekend," said Oxx.