Oxx's rare Wolverhampton raid scuppered as his runner fails to make cut
Access denied! Guardia Svizzera was all set to be only John Oxx's second runner in Britain this season, but the trainer's leftfield Wolverhampton notion was quashed on Tuesday as the three-year-old did not make the cut for the 7f handicap on Thursday night.
Guardia Svizzera made it sixth time lucky in a 7f maiden at Fairyhouse in July and was handed a mark of 82 by the handicapper after that front-running success.
Oxx has been keen to have a crack at a 7f handicap in Ireland but the unsettled weather has scuppered such plans as Guardia Svizzera needs quick ground to be at his most effective. That's where Wolverhampton came in.
After scanning the programme book on both sides of the Irish sea, Oxx spotted the opportunity at Wolverhampton and Guardia Svizzera was due to be the trainer's first runner in Britain since Naughty Or Nice trailed home last of 12 in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot in June.
The handicap at Wolverhampton is for horses rated between 60 and 80 and, while those rated 81 or 82 were allowed to enter, they make the cut only if the race fails to attract a maximum field of 12.
Unfortunately for Oxx there were no fewer than 27 declarations, and Guardia Svizzera was one of 15 to miss out.
"They do things a bit differently in Britain to Ireland and, while you were allowed to enter horses rated 81 and 82, they're there only as back-up should the race fail to attract a maximum field," said Oxx. "It's in the interest of field sizes.
"I had a runner at Wolverhampton shortly after the all-weather came in – in the 1990s – and if I remember correctly I think he was second. It would have been nice to have another runner there and I will keep an eye out for something similar in coming weeks."
Oxx added: "Guardia Svizzera is ready to go but I couldn't find a race for him in Ireland over seven furlongs on fast ground with his rating band.
"There's one at Roscommon coming up but the ground was heavy there on Monday so that might not work. The Wolverhampton race looked an ideal opportunity, and hopefully we can find something similar soon."