John Oxx expects to be represented by Born To Sea and the promising Takar in the Abu Dhabi Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh on May 26.
Sea The Stars’ half-brother Born To Sea was not able to replicate his sibling’s success in the English 2000 and was ultimately pretty disappointing when only 12th behind Camelot.
The Aga Khan’s Takar was the impressive winner of a November maiden at Leopardstown and warmed up for a Classic examination at the Kildare track a few days ago when taking the Listed Tetrarch Stakes.
“Both colts are in great form and will take their chance in the race,” said Oxx.
Jim Bolger has five colts still engaged, including the Dewhurst winner Parish Hall and Light Heavy, who has already collected two Derby trials.
The County Carlow trainer is biding his time over a decision and said: “We won’t make our mind up for a couple of days and at this stage it is all ground dependent.”
Aidan O’Brien, who won both the Irish 1000 and 2000 Guineas last year, is sure to have an assortment of runners and could pick from the likes of Wrote, Power and Daddy Long Legs.
Collina on course for Curragh date
Kevin Prendergast is encouraged by the form of La Collina’s effort at Newmarket as he prepares the filly for another Classic tilt in the Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh on May 27.
A shock 33-1 winner of last year’s Group One Phoenix Stakes, the daughter of Strategic Prince was making her seasonal reappearance when fifth behind the runaway Homecoming Queen a couple of weeks ago.
Prendergast said: “La Collina ran a blinder to finish fifth in the Newmarket 1000 Guineas and she has come out of that race in great shape.”
“The Fugue was just three-quarters of a length ahead of our filly that day and she really gave the form a big boost when romping to victory at York (Musidora Stakes) this week,” he added.
Homecoming Queen could reoppose, while Dermot Weld is to run Sunday’s Leopardstown Guineas Trial winner Yellow Rosebud.
“She has come out of her recent Leopardstown race in great shape and is all set to run in the 1000 Guineas,” said Weld.
David Wachman may field dual Dundalk scorer Aloof, rather than French Guineas fifth Fire Lily.
“It is all ground dependent with Aloof and we will wait until nearer the time,” he said.
“Fire Lily won’t run in the 1000 Guineas and will instead have a crack at the Weatherbys Ireland Greenland Stakes.”
Ger Lyons is likely to wait until next week before deciding upon the participation of Cheveley Park Stakes winner Lightening Pearl, who performed moderately at Newmarket.
Twirl put in her place by Fugue
Twirl couldn’t get to grips with The Fugue (15-8), who showed her Investec Oaks credentials with an impressive victory in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York.
Aidan O’Brien’s Twirl was well backed and went off the 5-6 favourite, and she travelled well enough when sent into the lead by Joseph O’Brien early in the straight.
But John Gosden’s The Fugue, who was fourth in the 1000 Guineas just 10 days earlier, pulled away in the final furlong under William Buick to win by four and a half lengths.
Buick said: “She felt very good. She was a little bit keen early on and she’s still inexperienced, so when horses come around her, she’s a very reactive filly. I just tried to get her to settle and she picked up really well - she’s class.
“The Guineas wasn’t a very nice experience for her. She wasn’t unlucky but she came out worst in a barging match and I’m just glad to have her back. At Epsom you need tactical speed and she certainly has that.”
Gosden said: “She was back on ground she loved, which made a big difference. She’s a lovely filly, she was a bit unlucky in the Guineas. All being well we’ll head for Epsom, but I’ll leave her in the French Oaks just in case it’s soft.
“I didn’t like running her here just 10 days after the Guineas, but I wanted to see if she was good enough for Epsom. I always felt she’d stay 10 furlongs and didn’t know about the rest, but William says that will be no problem.”
Highway motors to Blue Wind glory
Princess Highway marked herself as a possible Classic contender with victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Blue Wind Stakes at Naas.
Trained by Dermot Weld and ridden by Pat Smullen, Princess Highway was sent off a 7-2 chance after winning a Leopardstown maiden last time.
She was always travelling well for Smullen and as the well-backed front-runner Aloof began to toil in the straight, Princess Highway made her move. Smullen was in control a furlong out and while Aaraas tried her best to challenge, Princess Highway finished a length to the good.
Aidan O’Brien’s Was stayed on for third, while Shebella was in last place early on and never really looked like winning.
Princess Highway is not entered in the Investec Oaks but she holds a clutch of other top engagements, including the Irish 1000 Guineas and Oaks.
However, Weld is prepared to sidestep Classic possibilities and is eyeing a trip to Royal Ascot for the Ribblesdale Stakes, a race he won with Princess Highway’s dam Irresistible Jewel back in 2002.
He said: “It’s a lovely Group race to win with her. It was important with this filly to win her Group race.
“I think the logical progression will be to go for the Ribblesdale now. This filly is a late-maturing type and I think waiting for Royal Ascot is the prudent way to go.
“She will learn from today and I think as the year progresses, she will definitely be a Group One filly.”
Approach still unbeaten
Dawn Approach confirmed the promise of his winning debut when following up in the Fishery Lane Race at Naas.
Jim Bolger’s New Approach colt took the opening event of the turf season at the Curragh and was sent off the 4-6 favourite to repeat the dose.
Always close up under Kevin Manning, he took the lead off Canary Row two furlongs from home and shot clear, eventually cruising past the post five and a half lengths in front.
Bolger said: “He is a smart horse. We have a choice of races for him now. I was originally thinking of the Chesham but Kevin said he could go anywhere and when he says that, they can go anywhere.”