Andy Oliver is based in something of a racing outpost but he hopes to move to Classic centre-stage at the Curragh this weekend where the Co Tyrone trainer will be represented in both Guineas.
First Cornerstone is on track for a first start of the season in Saturday’s Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas and Oliver will be doubly represented in Sunday’s Etihaad Airways 1,000 Guineas after Dubaya was supplemented into the race yesterday at a cost of €30,000.
The Lady O’Reilly-owned filly joins Uleavemebreathless in the Sunday highlight as Oliver purses a first Group One career success he admits would be “fantastic” for his career.
This Sunday’s Group One Prix Saint Alary over 10 furlongs at Longchamp had been an option for Dubaya but the speed this filly has been showing at home means Oliver has elected to go the mile route.
“When she won her maiden at Navan last season, she looked like a staying filly and we entered her accordingly. But she has been showing a lot more speed so we’ve supplemented her for the Guineas,” Oliver said yesterday.
Dubaya finished only sixth behind Viztoria in the Athasi Stakes earlier this month but her trainer was encouraged by that display.
“She did everything wrong. She was very fresh, ran with the choke out, got a couple of bangs in the race, and had a blow when she was pulled out. But she ended up only beaten four and a half lengths,” declared Oliver.
"And my horses have all needed a run this season," he added.
'Entitled to be there'
"I have form lines to the likes of Maureen and Snow Queen that mean both Dubaya and Uleavemebreathless are entitled to be there.
"First Cornerstone is in good form for the 2,000 Guineas. Good ground would be fine for him and the only real concern I would have for my horses is if it firms up into real quick ground," he said, adding that Chris Hayes will again team up with First Cornerstone and Dubaya.
Sligo is one of the closest tracks to Oliver’s Caledon stables but this evening’s card is all-National Hunt, although Tramore maiden winner Zabana could be a good bet to land the second maiden hurdle.
Zabana won his flat maiden for Ken Condon but is now with Andrew Lynch, for whom he ran an encouraging jumping debut at Limerick behind Band Of Blood.
Willie Mullins runs both his high-class chaser On His Own and Twigline in the conditions hurdle and On His Own's Grade Two success during the winter is a stand-out.
On the back of a wind operation, The Two Jays won over two miles at the course earlier this month and shaped like a half-mile hike in distance shouldn't stop him defying an 8lb penalty.
Declaration Of War was a major disappointment in last weekend’s Group One JLT Lockinge but Aidan O’Brien has kept open the option of a quick Group One reappearance in Sunday’s Prix D’Ispahan.
The Ballydoyle horse is among 20 left in the nine-and-a-half-furlong event.