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Oxx Could Run Red Eye Express in Craven Stakes

Irish trainer John Oxx is considering running Red Eye Express in the £50,000 Group Three Craven Stakes (3.45pm), run over a mile at Newmarket on Thursday, April 17, the second day of the Craven Meeting.

The three-year-old colt, currently a 50/1 chance with Stan James for the 2000 Guineas, won on his only start in a seven-furlong maiden at Cork on October 20.

Oxx has been pleased with the progress of Red Eye Express since that victory and is hoping to get a run into the son of Giant’s Causeway prior to a possible tilt at Classic glory on May 3.

The Curragh-based trainer commented: "We’ve no good ground in Ireland and we need somewhere for Red Eye Express to run, so the Craven Stakes is a possibility at the moment. He’s also entered in a race at Dundalk and we will make a decision on Monday.

"He’s only had one run and is quite inexperienced, but we need to bite the bullet at some point to find out just how good he is.

"He’s has an entry in the 2000 Guineas which is why we are keen to test him. He’s been going well at home and we don’t know if he is in that league or not, but he’s a nice horse and has pleased us with his work.

"He’s fit and ready to go and has done well over the winter. He’s a big horse who has strengthened up a bit and matured a lot. He looks a smart sort of horse and we think he has gone the right way."

Oxx’s only previous runner in the 2000 Guineas was Azamour, who finished third behind Haafhd in 2004. However, he believes that it is too early to compare Red Eye Express with his four-time Group One winner.

He continued: "Azamour was a bit inexperienced when he lined up at Newmarket, but he had done a little bit more as a two-year-old, having won the Group Two Beresford at the Curragh. He missed his prep run for the Guineas because the ground was too heavy, but Red Eye Express would definitely need a race before the Guineas because he has had only one outing. It’s too early to say if he’s in the same league."

A total of 19 horses have been entered for the Craven Stakes, including Group One Darley Dewhurst Stakes third Raven’s Pass, who is currently 11/2 second favourite with Stan James for the 2000 Guineas.

Henry Cecil could be represented by the unbeaten Twice Over, whose last win came in the bet365 Zetland Conditions Stakes at Newmarket on November 3, and Sir Michael Stoute has entered Confront and Perfect Stride.

River Proud, winner of the Group Three Somerville Tattersall Stakes at Newmarket on October 5, could line up for trainer Paul Cole, while Brian Meehan has entered Group Two scorer City Leader. Aidan O’Brien has engaged Great Rumpuscat, The Bogberry and Zulu Chief.

The £50,000 Group Three Weatherbys Earl Of Sefton Stakes (4.20pm), also run on Thursday, April 17, has attracted an entry of 14 horses, including the Henry Cecil-trained Multidimensional, who finished fifth in the Group One Emirates Airline Champion Stakes at Newmarket on Champions’ Day.

Mark Tompkins hopes that Smokey Oakey will make his mark on a step up to Group company following his convincing one-and-three-quarter length victory in the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster on March 22.

Tompkins commented: "The plan is to run Smokey Oakey in the Weatherbys Earl Of Sefton Stakes. He’s come out of his Doncaster run right as rain and the step up to a Group contest seems the logical thing.

"If he runs well, he’ll go up the handicap, so we might have to start thinking about his future being in Group races. It looks like the Weatherbys Earl Of Sefton Stakes will be a tough race, but if it keeps raining, we will be all right and he should run his race on Thursday."

Clive Brittain has entered recent Kempton Listed winner Kandidate, while John Gosden has engaged Royal Oath and Pipedreamer, who was a convincing winner of the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket on October 6.

A total of 28 horses have been entered for the £30,000 Listed Connaught Access Flooring Abernant Stakes (3.10pm), run over six furlongs. Aahayson and Sonny Red, who recently finished first and second in the Listed Cammidge Stakes at Doncaster could re-oppose, while Roger Fisher has entered Beckermet, who finished second in the Group Three Igloos Bentinck Stakes at Newmarket on Champions’ Day.

James Fanshawe could run last year’s Stewards’ Cup scorer Zidane, and Barry Hills may be represented by Prime Defender, who got his season under way last season with victory in the Listed European Free Handicap at the Craven Meeting.

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