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Saturday, May 9, 2009


OXX LOOKING FOR MORE INVESTEC DERBY CLUES AT LEOPARDSTOWN WITH MOURAYAN



Fresh from saddling Sea The Stars to victory in the Group One stanjames.com 2000 Guineas, trainer John Oxx is set to unleash another potential Investec Derby hopeful, Mourayan, in the Group Two Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown tomorrow (Sunday, May 10).


The Aga Khan’s son of Alhaarth was a half-length second to his Classic-winning stablemate in the mile Group Two Beresford Stakes at the Curragh in September and ended his juvenile campaign with a comfortable victory in a nine-furlong Listed contest at Leopardstown at the start of November.


The three-year-old colt returned to action at the same course in the 10-furlong Group Three Ballysax Stakes on April 19, when he was a close third behind Fame And Glory, with Fergus McIver in second.

All three horses are set to put their Investec Derby credentials on the line again in tomorrow’s 10-furlong race, which has previously been won by the Oxx-trained Sinndar (2000), and the Aidan O’Brien-trained pair of Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002), who all went on to victory in racing’s Blue Riband.


Oxx said: “I think that the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial will tell us whether Mourayan is a serious Investec Derby horse or not. He was a promising two-year-old and ran a promising race on his return in the Ballysax Stakes.

“I think Sunday’s race will be a bit of a re-hash of the Ballysax Stakes, with us taking on Fame And Glory again. I thought that we were a bit unlucky not to beat Fergus McIver last time out and I would be disappointed if Mourayan didn’t get the better of him this time around.


“He got caught in on the rail in the Ballysax Stakes and had to let everything get past. The race was over by the time he got out but he flew home and he should have been in a photo with the winner at the least.


“We have to hope that he has come on for that run but I am sure that Fame And Glory will have come on for the race as well. It will be interesting to see where they fit in with each other.

“His half-brother, Mourilyan, was a slow starter but this fellow is a better horse than him and it was just circumstances that went against him in the Ballysax Stakes.

“Mourayan is a better horse and he is certainly less exasperating to watch - he doesn’t drop himself out and fly home. Mourilyan was a bit of a more one-dimensional horse but Mourayan has more class about him.


“Tarankali has been declared as a possible pacemaker. You wouldn’t expect him to be in the first three, but you still need a decent horse to set a good gallop. Aidan O’Brien has a couple of horses as well and between us we should ensure a decent gallop.


“We are hoping that he runs well enough to be a possible runner at Epsom and everything has gone well with his preparation for the race. He would really need to be fighting out the finish with Fame And Glory for us to pursue our Investec Derby plans.”

While Mourayan has yet to cement his place in the Investec Derby, Oxx already looks to have a strong contender in the race courtesy of Sea The Stars, who stormed to victory over the Rowley Mile last weekend. The Cape Cross colt will now head to Epsom Downs.


Oxx added: “Sea The Stars has come out of the stanjames.com 2000 Guineas in good shape and he seems fresh and well this week. Everything is fine with him and we will go straight to Epsom with him now.”

The Group Two totesport.com Dante Stakes, run at York on Thursday has proved to be the most informative Investec Derby trial in recent years, with North Light (2004), Motivator (2005) and Authorized (2007) winning on the Knavesmire and following up at Epsom Downs.


A total of 15 colts have been entered for the extended 10-furlong contest, headed by Crowded House, who stormed to an emphatic victory in the Group One Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in October for trainer Brian Meehan.

A quartet of entries from O’Brien includes High Chaparral’s full-brother Black Bear Island and 10-length Tipperary maiden victor Freemantle, while Her Majesty the Queen’s Free Agent could make his seasonal reappearance after a bruised foot ruled him out of his intended engagement at Chester this week.


Kite Wood is set to make his debut for Godolphin following an impressive juvenile campaign for trainer Michael Jarvis that culminated with victory in the Group Three Autumn Stakes at Ascot in October, while other Investec Derby hopefuls who could bid to further their Epsom claims in the totesport.com Dante Stakes include Native Ruler, Sans Frontieres and Glass Harmonium. The last-named represents the same owner/trainer combination, Sir Michael Stoute and Ballymacoll Stud, as last year’s York winner Tartan Bearer who went on to finish second to New Approach in the premier Classic at Epsom Downs.


A weekend of important Classic trials includes today’s Group Three totesport.com Derby Trial at Lingfield today.

Last season’s Group One Criterium de Saint-Cloud fourth Age Of Aquarius makes his seasonal reappearance in the extended 11-furlong contest and the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt is set to face tough competition from Alwaary, Father Time, Montaff and Sumbe, who all hold entries in the Investec Derby.


The first two Classics of the French season take place at Longchamp tomorrow, the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, over a mile.

Investec Derby entries Born To Be King, Shaweel, Vocalised and Westphalia will try and enhance their Epsom claims in the former.


The £1,250,000 Investec Derby is run on the second and final day of the Investec Derby Festival, Saturday, June 6, 2009.


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