Oxx and Prendergast celebrate first success since joining forces at Cork

Wednesday, May 22 2019

John Oxx and Patrick Prendergast registered their first success since merging yards when Highland Dress put in a striking performance on debut in the Matchbook Straight Seven Maiden for Godolphin at Cork.

Stable-star Skitter Skatter did not get to do herself justice in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, after damaging a hamstring muscle which will see her miss the Irish equivalent.

However, the Currabeg contingent have plenty to look forward to, judging by the way the Colm O’Donoghue-ridden 4-1 chance Highland Dress upstaged market leader Arabeska by two and a quarter lengths.

Encouragingly, they drew on by four and a quarter lengths from third home, The Mpex Kid.

Supported down from bigger prices earlier, it was not surprising to hear Oxx say of Highland Dress: “I don’t have too many (good prospects), but he might be one.

“It is hard to know when they win maidens, but he is a nice horse. We had him ready to run this time last year on Guineas weekend; he was precocious enough and a quick learner, but then he got one little setback after another and here he is a year later!

“He had been working well and we thought if he did everything right on the day he’d be hard to beat in his maiden. He could have won that at six furlongs, but around seven is his trip and going up in class we’ll see.

“You’d love to go up (in class) bit by bit, but very often the race isn’t there for you.

“That is a lovely track for horses having their first run, it is so level it is like a billiard table. It is great for green horses not to be meeting humps and hollows and ridges along the way.”

The Godolphin colours were successful again half an hour on, the Buy Online @ corkracecourse.ie Maiden going to the Godolphin-owned Balefire (3-1).

Ronan Whelan made the experience of the Michael Halford-trained Shamardal colt count, off the front end, beating Pacific Ocean and Phoenix Open by a length and a quarter and a head.

Whelan was not finished for the evening as he later prevailed on Royal Admiral (3-1) for Ado McGuinness in the Social Package Handicap.

Young Andrew Slattery consigned his father Andy’s horse Cityman to the runner-up position when guiding Fozzy Stack’s Woody Creek (2-1 favourite) to success in the Matchbook Low Commission Exchange Rated Race.

Woody Creek followed up on her Naas victory from eleven days back, accounting for Cityman by two and a half lengths.

Stack said: “She holds an entry for the Ballyogan Stakes (at the Curragh next month) and I wouldn’t rule it out. An owner-breeder (Craig Bernick) has her.”

Aidan O’Brien and Seamie Heffernan could only finish fourth of five with National Guard behind Woody Creek, but they were on the mark in the opening Matchbook Irish EBF Maiden with easy-to-back debutant Mount Fuji.

The Dark Angel colt turned around what appeared to be a likely defeat, when under pressure in mid-division from halfway, to fly home and beat Invincible Diva and Principalship by half a length and a neck.

O’Brien said of the 5-1 winner: “We think he could be an Ascot two-year-old. Whether or not we can get another race into him, I’m not sure. He is a nice colt though. Five or six furlongs is his trip and he’s not short of speed.”

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