Native can make his mark
John Oxx will leave it late before deciding whether Native Khan will take his chance in the Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown tomorrow.
The four-year-old will be having just his third start for Oxx if he does line up in the Group Three contest over a mile, having been trained by Ed Dunlop previously.
Third in the Derby for Dunlop last year, Native Khan disappointed on his final start of 2011 in the Irish Derby and was then off the track for over year.
The Azamour colt then reappeared for Oxx and finished third behind Famous Name in a Curragh Group Three before filling the same position behind the same horse at Leopardstown last time.
Oxx is eager for Native Khan to take his chance but any further rain could scupper those plans.
Oxx is also represented by Takar, a comfortable Group Three winner at the Curragh.
While he strolled home that day on heavy ground, Oxx is not reading too much into the form and expects the David Wachman-trained Duntle to put up plenty of resistance.
“He likes soft ground but we were hoping for good ground as we wanted to see how he handles it and if he's as good on it,” he said.
“But he does like it soft and he should run well and seems in good form. Duntle was a nice winner at Ascot and has a slightly higher rating than us and will be getting 6lb, so she could be the one to beat.
“His (Takar) last race was a bit of a penalty kick really and you wouldn't write too much into that form so we will see how he goes.”
Heavy rain and wind swept across Ireland on Wednesday but Leopardstown seems to have escaped reasonably lightly while tracks such as Gowran and Tramore have had to abandon racing. The track's Nessa Joyce said: “We have had 14 millimetres which is a lot less than we were expecting so we're happy with that.
“We are good to soft at the moment but there's still a chance of a few more showers later today. The worst of the weather seems to have passed through now.”
Duntle is one of two runners for Wachman in the race with Aloof also taking her chance in the 11-strong field.
Dermot Weld relies on Rock Critic who switches back to the level after winning over hurdles at Galway.
The seven-year-old had been beaten on the Flat at Ballybrit earlier in the week but returned to form with an 11-length romp over obstacles, earning Supreme Novices' Hurdle quotes.
“He's a fun horse and we might get a bit of value out of him,” said Stan Cosgrove, racing manager to owners Moyglare Stud.
“He ran on the Flat first at Galway then won over hurdles. He loves jumping hurdles and might pick up plenty of money.
“He might be a Cheltenham horse one day. He's got a few years left in him and he's a sound horse.
“There was a time when he didn’t like going in the stalls very much, but he seems all right with them now.”