THE Aga Khan’s undefeated Rayeni will attempt an unprecedented English-Irish 2,000 Guineas double for John Oxx at the Curragh on Saturday in the first of the 2009 Irish Classics.
The race is the only domestic Classic to have eluded this former champion trainer whose prime hope Arazan was ruled out during the past week when found to be running a temperature.
However the Currabeg yard which houses the main contingent of the Aga Khan’s horses here is fortunate to have a ready-made deputy in Rayeni which won his maiden at Naas and Leopardstown’s Group 3 Killavullan Stakes.
Unraced since those juvenile outings last autumn, the Indian Ridge colt has been pleasing at home of late.
“Rayeni looks like making it to the 2,000 Guineas next weekend and we will just see how his work goes on Tuesday. His fitness level is pretty good and he’s been shaping up nicely,” Oxx remarked.
Heading the opposition could well be Aidan O’Brien’s Mastercraftsman which kept on well for fifth to Rayeni’s Epsom-bound stable companion Sea The Stars in the English equivalent on fast ground at Newmarket.
Sea The Stars, which has been replaced as ante-post favourite for the Investec Derby by Mastercraftsman’s stablemate Fame And Glory, has freshened up and is very well.
“We had to rush him a bit to make the Guineas, but he came out of Newmarket in good form and has an excellent constitution. There’s three weeks to go and we’ll see on the day if he has the stamina for the Derby,” Oxx added.
The trainer was speaking at Navan yesterday after watching stable jockey Michael Kinane earning his fee aboard Sadler’s Wells colt Big Game Hunter which eventually justified favouritism in the Fun For Kids Maiden.
The obvious form horse also delivered in the following fillies maiden although champion Pat Smullen had a much easier assignment in guiding odds-on Enchanted Evening to a runaway victory for the Weld family.
Don’t be surprised if this High Chaparral progeny, home-bred by Dermot Weld’s mother Marguerite, steps up in grade next for a stable which fields Thursday’s Gowran Park winner Rare Ransom in Sunday’s 1,000 Guineas.
Smullen had an equally straightforward task in steering Croisultan to success during the earlier conditions sprint race.
Meanwhile, Snowy Morning secured his second victory inside a week in the Supermacs Drive Thru Hurdle at Limerick yesterday.
The Willie Mullins inmate has completed the last two renewals of the Grand National at Aintree but, having failed to get his head in front in well over a year, dropped in class to win a Killarney chase seven days ago.
Sent off the 5-2 joint-favourite for this return over smaller obstacles, the nine-year-old made most of the running under David Casey, knuckling down well to fend off Clear Riposte by half a length.
Patrick Mullins, son of the winning handler, said: “The horse may be dropped back in trip now.”
Meanwhile, Paco Boy will stick to a mile and head for the Group One Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot despite Saturday’s defeat over the trip in the Juddmonte Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.