John Oxx planning twin bid for Irish Oaks glory

Naughty or Nice and Bengala set to take on favourite Enable at the Curragh

John Oxx expects to be doubly represented in Saturday's €400,000 Darley Irish Oaks with both Naughty Or Nice and Bengala set to take on the odds-on favourite Enable in the Curragh classic.

Naughty Or Nice endured a “disaster” in last month’s Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot when Declan McDonogh’s saddle slipped soon after the start. The filly also ran free in first-time blinkers and was all but pulled up in the straight.

“We have to see how she works but the plan is to run on Saturday. We wanted to find out where she fitted in at Ascot but it turned into a disaster so that didn’t come to pass. She has the Oaks entry so we’ll left her take her chance,” the Curragh trainer said yesterday.

Bengala could finish only fifth in the Munster Oaks at Cork last month but Oxx reckons easier ground conditions will suit the daughter of Pivotal better.


“It got very hot in Cork and turned more towards firm than good. It’s unclear what the weather is going to do between now and Saturday but at least we’re not in a heatwave,” he said.

The last Irish-based trainer to win the Oaks apart from Aidan O'Brien was the late Paddy Mullins who scored with Vintage Tipple in 2003.

However Oxx did win back-to-back renewals two decades ago with Ebadiyla and Winona in 1997-98.

Oxx also welcomed the decision by Godolphin to send him five two year olds to train, describing it as the renewal of an old association with Sheikh Mohammed.

“I first trained horses for Sheikh Mohammed 30 years ago so we’re renewing an old association. I’m very pleased about it and hopefully we can win some races with them,” he said.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column