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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Oxx cavalry ready to fire

Trainer's troops in superb shape for Royal Ascot battle

WITH some notable entries for next week's Royal Ascot meeting, John Oxx couldn't ask for his team to be in better form at the moment.

The Curragh-based trainer has enjoyed a real purple patch in the last week with seven winners from his last 11 runners including a couple of doubles over the last couple of nights at both Fairyhouse and Leopardstown.

Last night, it was Alanza who claimed the Ballycorus Stakes under Johnny Murtagh, justifying favouritism when holding Marvada by a neck.

Indeed, Oxx's current form was complemented in last night's opener at Leopardstown as his first two-year-old runner of the season returned to the winner's enclosure in fine style.

Backed from 5/1 into 7/2, Harasiya had a very comfortable two and three parts of a length to spare over the well backed favourite Nurpur, again with Murtagh guiding the winner.

The Group One Moyglare was touted as a possible long-term target for the Aga Khan-owned filly who would appear a filly with a very bright future.

After Oxx had given his upbeat report on Born To Sea, it was no surprise to hear Murtagh yesterday speak with excitement regarding Saddler's Rock.

The recent Leopardstown runner-up pleased connections with a likeable seasonal reappearance and he is now all set for a clash with Fame And Glory in the prestigious Ascot Gold Cup.

Murtagh has previously won the Gold Cup on two occasions on Aidan O'Brien's legendary Yeats and of his partner for next week the Meath rider said: "He ran very well the other day, I was very happy with him, the ground was very soft. He wouldn't like sticky ground. If it comes up on the good side at Ascot, he'd have a great chance. I'm looking forward to riding him in the Gold Cup."

As well as Born To Sea and Saddler's Rock, other Royal Ascot entries from Curraghbeg include Call To Battle and Karatash.

Trainer Jim Bolger has confirmed that his leading two-year-old Dawn Approach will line up in Tuesday's Coventry Stakes.

The now second-favourite in some places, Dawn Approach has been headed in the betting in the past 24 hours by Cristoforo Colombo, but Bolger said: "He (Dawn Approach) ran a very good race (at Naas). They went five-furlong place all the way and he got home very well. He ate up the next day and the amazing thing about it was he was a kilo heavier the day after the race than he was before it.



feed

"He's obviously a very tough, hardy horse and he doesn't back off the feed pot," Bolger continued.

Dawn Approach is the first to fly the flag for Bolger's Derby winner New Approach and the colt is three from three this season since winning the first two-year-old maiden at the Curragh back in March.

"He could be very good -- I haven't had many that are better than him. It wouldn't matter to him whether it was five, six or seven furlongs or a mile -- it wouldn't make any difference," he said.

"I'd be confident he'll run well and if anything there is better than him then good luck to them."

Joseph O'Brien is the warm favourite to be next week's leading jockey at Royal Ascot and continue what has been a sensational season, and looking ahead to his plum book of rides, he said: "I'm most looking forward to Maybe in the Coronation Stakes.

"She'll have to improve on her form, but I think she can."

Finally, Dermot Weld's Emulous has been installed as the 11/4 favourite with William Hill for the Windsor Forest Stakes next week. The seven-time winning five-year-old made a welcome return to action at the Curragh last month with an impressive win in Group Three company.

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