John Oxx ready to put season to bed and aim for 2014

Royal Diamond destined for sales ring

My Titania and Declan McDonogh winning at Leopardstown in September. The John Oxx trained star is as low as 14/1 for next year’s Newmarket 1,000 Guineas. Photograph: Inpho

My Titania and Declan McDonogh winning at Leopardstown in September. The John Oxx trained star is as low as 14/1 for next year’s Newmarket 1,000 Guineas. Photograph: Inpho


With less than a fortnight remaining of a turf campaign he will choose to mostly forget, John Oxx admits his focus is already on 2014 and a crop of “above average” of current juveniles that could yet graduate to Group One and classic standard.

A season decimated by a virus, and which saw the Aga Khan decline to send yearlings to Oxx’s Currabeg yard, is only now returning to something like normal service for the globally-acclaimed trainer who has sent out a succession of promising two-year-olds in recent weeks.

They are headed by the Park Stakes winner My Titania who is as low as 14/1 in some ante-post lists for next year’s Newmarket 1,000 Guineas. But she has been backed up by some highly-promising colts owned by the Aga Khan including last week’s Curragh maiden winner Ebanoran.

This Saturday’s Group Three Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown had been mooted as a possible option for the son of Oasis Dream who is 33/1 for both the Derby and the 2,000 Guineas next year. However, Oxx yesterday ruled that out.

“That would have been a good race for him if it came a week later but he won’t be running again this year. We will be concentrating on maidens in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

Mixed feelings
The Irish season on-turf winds up on Sunday week, leaving Oxx with mixed feelings.

“The horses are finally coming into form now, which is always the way, but there’s nothing anyone can do about that. We will focus on next year, and mostly forget about this one,” he said. Other Currabeg two-year-olds to have caught the eye recently are the Navan winner Ebasani and the highly-touted Markoush who was runner-up at the Curragh on his only start to date.

“The two-year-olds do look an above-average bunch but they haven’t really had the chance to show it. Hopefully they can prove to be a nice bunch of three-year-olds. Only time will tell but hopefully they can do well,” said Oxx whose last top-flight success came in 2009 when Aldandi in the Prix Du Cadran backed up Sea The Stars’ epic Arc victory at Longchamp.

The high-class stayer Saddler’s Rock has proved to be something of an Oxx stalwart in the last couple of years and ran another good race behind Royal Diamond in Saturday’s Long Distance Cup at Ascot despite the soft ground conditions.

“It was the last option of the year for him so we let him run on the soft going. He doesn’t like it but considering the circumstances he ran a good race,” Oxx reported. “We’ll give him a break now and take him back to Dubai where he seems to like the weather and the ground.”

Saddler’s Rock’s half-brother, Galileo Rock, was placed in three classics in 2013 and David Wachman reports the colt will be back next year to try and break his Group One duck.

“That looks to be the plan and Duntle is also finished for the year and will stay in training next season,” reported the Co Tipperary trainer whose Phoenix Stakes winner Sudirman is also being prepared for a 2014 campaign.

Saturday’s Long Distance Cup winner Royal Diamond could have run his last race for owner Andrew Tinkler as plans remain for him to go under the hammer at Tattersalls Sales next Monday.

‘Great performance’
“It was a brilliant day and a great performance from the horse on Saturday. He is in the sales and if the right offer comes in, then he’ll be sold. If he doesn’t make the money we want, then he’ll come home,” said Tinkler yesterday.

“At the end of the day it’s a business. You can’t get too emotional about it. If you’re not in the race you can’t win and it’s the same with the sales. Although he’s a seven-year-old I still believe he’s at the top of his game and if someone else wants to pay the money I hope he goes on and does really well for them. That’s the way I look at it,” the English businessman added.

The sales ring could also be on the horizon for Tinkler’s Belle De Crecy, runner-up in Saturday’s Group One fillies race at Ascot. “We’re looking at our options now,” the owner said. “She’s in the mares sales in December so we’ll see.”