John Oxx keen to see resurfacing of Dundalk all-weather circuit
Curragh trainer’s new recruit Skitter Scatter on course for 1,000 Guineas bid at Newmarket
John Oxx with QIPCO 1,000 Guineas contender Skitter Scatter at Currabeg Stables. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
John Oxx believes Dundalk’s controversial all-weather circuit isn’t suitable for the same range of horses as it used to be and has welcomed plans for it to be resurfaced.
The hugely respected trainer isn’t represented at Dundalk’s fixture on Wednesday evening which has attracted just 62 declarations over the seven races.
There have been widespread calls for the 12 year old Polytrack artificial surface, which is made up of synthetic fibres, rubber, sand and wax, to be replaced on the back of reports of horses returning home stiff and sore after racing on it.
The Irish Racehorse Trainers Association has urged Dundalk’s management to begin the task of replacing the surface as soon as possible once its final three meetings of the spring programme are finished early next month.
Those calls have been echoed by Horse Racing Ireland’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh and the Dundalk boss Jim Martin has indicated that detailed plans for a project that could take over six months are currently being drawn up.
Oxx said on Tuesday that resurfacing work, which could cost an estimated €2.5 million, will be welcomed throughout the sport on the back of complaints of the track being too fast and the surface lacking ‘bounce’ .
“The general consensus is, and the management know this I believe, that it isn’t the same surface as it was originally, and they’re prepared to deal with it.
“The same spectrum of horses are not suited to it now as were capable of running on it at the beginning. I think every trainer would welcome it [replacement] at this stage,” Oxx said.
The Curragh trainer also reported his new recruit Skitter Scatter to be on course for classic glory at Newmarket next month.
Last season’s Moyglare Stud Stakes heroine joined Oxx after the amalgamation of Patrick Prendergast’s string into the Currabeg team earlier this year.
Skitter Scatter is as low as 7-1 in many ante-post lists for the Newmarket 1,000 Guineas, behind only the impressive Nell Gwyn winner Qabala and ahead of the Ballydoyle pair, Just Wonderful and Fairyland.
“The Guineas is the plan and she’s doing fine. So far, so good, she’s coming in her coat and we’re happy with her,” said the man who masterminded Sea The Stars’s superb classic campaign a decade ago.
Oxx has never landed the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, coming closest when Arch Swing was runner-up to Finsceal Beo in 2007. He did however win the Irish version in 1995 with Ridgewood Pearl.
Bookmakers generally rate Aidan O’Brien’s Group One-winning pair Magna Grecia and Ten Sovereigns as 6-1 joint-second favourite behind Too Darn Hot for Newmarket’s 2,000 Guineas in less than three weeks.
“Both did a bit this morning and we were very happy with them. Everything’s going according to plan so far and both are looking at the Guineas. They look to be the main two,” said O’Brien.
The champion trainer won with both his runners at Dundalk on Sunday and sends another pair north on Wednesday including the newcomer King Neptune, one of just four lining up for the two year old maiden.
Yesterdayoncemore was a beaten favourite behind Moments Linger on her debut at the track and that experience could prove crucial.
O’Brien’s Dunkirk Harbour is one of a handful of runners in the three year old maiden and might face a task against Jessica Harrington’s filly Mallacoota. This one belied big odds last October when third to the promising Happen at Leopardstown.
Course and distance winner Miss Jabean will have to defy topweight and a high draw in the five furlong handicap. Olay Power is at the other end of the ratings and has a crucial inside box.