Saddler’s Rock runs pleasing Gold Cup trial

Despite running on ground that was all against him, the John Oxx-trained stayer Saddler’s Rock put up a very pleasing effort on his first outing of the 2012 campaign in coming home a creditable half-length runner-up to the mudlark Midnight Soprano in the listed Seamus & Rosemary McGrath Memorial Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown, and is now reported by many who bet on horse racing on Bet Victor as bang on target to bid for the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup on June 21, writes Elliot Slater.

A horse who is normally campaigned on good or faster ground, Oxx had little option other than to let Saddler’s Rock take his chance under the extremely testing conditions at Leopardstown as there were no other races available to put the finishing touches to his charge before he attempts to lower the colours of fellow Irish raider and defending champion Fame And Glory in the showcase Ascot marathon.

Last term the son of Sadler’s Wells proved himself amongst the best horses around at ‘Cup’ distances, graduating from winning a Leopardstown handicap off a mark of 87 in July to beating Godolphin’s smart stayer Opinion Poll (recent winner of the Henry II Stakes at Sandown having previously landed the Dubai Gold Cup in March), by four lengths in the Group 2 Doncaster Cup, to end the season with an official rating of 114.

Although that mark leaves him with around 10lbs to find with Ballydoyle’s Fame And Glory, there is little doubt that Oxx’s colt is going the right way, and after his brave seasonal return most firms seem impressed and cut Saddler’s Rock to 5/1 second favourite for the highly sought after race behind last year’s winner, who remains a rock solid 7/4 market leader having shaped nicely when winning in listed company on his first outing of the season in the middle of May.

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Takar Emerges as Classic Contender

John Oxx looks to have a genuine contender for honours in the Abu Dhabi Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh, later this month, following the smooth victory of his Takar at the home of Irish racing, on Sunday, in the listed Dylan Thomas European Breeders Fund Tetrarch Stakes, writes Elliot Slater.

Less than 24 hours after the yard’s Born To Sea had failed to shine at Newmarket in the Qipco 2000 Guineas, when well-fancied in many quarters, Takar restored confidence amongst the Oxx team by putting up a professional display in the seven-furlong contest.

The win helped justify 5/4 favouritism, in beating Coolnagree by a length-and-a-quarter, with Ballydoyle’s Triumphant a neck back in third. Get great odds on horse racing on Bet Victor.

The winning margin does not do justice to the measure of superiority the Aga Khan’s colt held over his rivals, having quickened from off the pace to surge into the lead under Johnny Murtagh, before being nudged out to easily maintain his advantage.

The son of Oratorio was setting foot on a racecourse for just his third career outing, and his first of the 2012 campaign, having run with plenty of promise, when fourth to Call to Battle in a Curragh maiden, last October.

He got off the mark at only the second time of asking, when slamming Place Vendome by an impressive eight-lengths at Leopardstown, a month later, right at the end of the Irish turf season.

Oxx expressed himself very pleased with the way his three-year-old went about his business, on Sunday, and had little hesitation in nominating a crack at the Irish 2000 Guineas, on May 26, as the next target for Takar, who comes from a long established bloodline, supported by the Aga Khan, over many decades.

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