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Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Oxx and O'Brien dominate Munster Oaks line-up

John Oxx: saddles three runners in the Munster Oaks
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It is not quite Epsom or the Curragh but it's Derby and Oaks day at Cork!

The track stages the Group 3 Munster Oaks and Cork Derby Handicap, with the fillies' race the feature contest being worth €70,000, against €50,000 for the handicap – which, like the much more dazzling Derby's at Epsom and the Curragh, is also open to fillies. Both races are over the Classic distance of a mile and a half.

Between them John Oxx and Aidan O'Brien supply seven of the 11 fillies for the Munster Oaks (3.20), which O'Brien will be attempting to win for the fourth consecutive year.

Colm O'Donoghue, successful on Pretty Perfect a year ago, partners Key To My Heart, the highest rated of the four Ballydoyle runners and who, like her stablemates, will be tackling the trip for the first time.

O'Brien said: "We were happy with Key To My Heart's run at the Curragh last time and we think the step up in trip will suit her.

"Butterflies has plenty of racing done but we're happy with her and we think she can progress."

Completing the O'Brien team are the lightly raced maiden four-year-old Like A Star and Pavlenko, third in a Leopardstown maiden on her second start last month and who has cheekpieces, replacing a visor.

"We'll be delighted if Like A Star could earn some black type, while Pavlenko ran a nice race at Leopardstown and hopefully will improve," added O'Brien.

Bengala, who is Declan McDonogh's pick from the three Oxx-trained runners, won a maiden at Leopardstown on her debut in April before meeting trouble in running at Navan on her second start.

Oxx said: "Bengala is trying a new trip but the way she finished at Navan was encouraging. She's inexperienced compared with most of her rivals but we're happy with her. She's in good form.

"We know Red Stars stays well. She was below her best on her two runs early in the season but we think she's in better form now.

"Flying Fairies will be going the distance for the first time. She was a Listed winner over a mile and a quarter last year and running her in this race is a bit of an experiment."

The forecast quick ground will not favour Sea Swift, whose trainer Dermot Weld said: "We're after more black type for her and she's very well but she appreciates ease, so any rain would be very welcome."

Jim Bolger is represented by Glamorous Approach, who is on a hat-trick after wins in a handicap and a Listed event at the Curragh.

Mawaany, winner of both his starts since joining Ger Lyons, steps up in trip in the Cork Derby Handicap (3.50).

An easy winner of a Curragh handicap over a two furlong shorter last month, the four-year-old is up 8lb for that victory.

Also chasing a hat-trick is Zamira, whose trainer Willie McCreery said: "She's won over the trip, likes fast ground and has a good draw. She's stepping up in grade but she's very well and hopefully she's still improving."

Weld, successful with Alveena for the Aga Khan a year ago, is represented by Sikandarabad, who heads the weights off 10st in the 11-runner event.

Cork card

We were happy with Key To My Heart's run at the Curragh last time and we think the step up in trip will suit her
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