Smullen takes Sea ride

Pat Smullen will ride Born To Sea in Saturday’s Abu Dhabi Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh, with the colt sporting a first-time hood.

A half-brother to the brilliant Sea The Stars, Born To Sea ruined his chance in the Newmarket Guineas by pulling much too hard in the early stages and trainer John Oxx hopes the hood will help to keep him calm.

Oxx also runs Takar, who will be the mount of owner the Aga Khan’s retained jockey Johnny Murtagh.

“Pat Smullen will ride Born To Sea as Johnny is retained by His Highness so he rides Takar,” said Oxx.

“Born To Sea has been working in a hood and it seems to keep him calm so we’re going to run him in it.

“It’s a step up from ear plugs and just covers the whole ear.

“He’d blown his chance after two furlongs at Newmarket so we want to see him relax.

“I haven’t raced a horse in a hood for many years, in fact the last time might be when my father still trained.

“Willie Mullins uses ear plugs a lot and Sir Henry Cecil has used a hood recently. It’s not a sound thing, it’s more to stop the wind whistling.

“When horses gallop you notice they put their ears flat against their head to try to avoid it.

“With Takar we’ll get an idea of how good he is. It’s the same for both really as Newmarket was a non-event.”

Meanwhile trainer Kevin Prendergast is confident the drying ground will suit La Collina in the Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas on Sunday.

A Group One winner as a two-year-old, she ran a fine race to finish fifth behind Homecoming Queen in the Newmarket equivalent.

Prendergast feels the ground was against her that day and believes La Collina is a much better horse on a sounder surface.

“The ground didn’t suit her but we were happy she finished pretty good, she kept going to the line,” Prendergast told At The Races.

“She didn’t grow very much but she’s very solid and took the race at Newmarket very well.

“The drying ground – it should be good by Sunday – should suit her well.

“Newmarket was a little bit messy for her. She needs it fast so under the circumstance she ran well.

“I think she could step up in trip. An Irish Oaks winner is in the family so that could be an influence.

“She’s got a high rating, so we’ll see on Sunday if she can run up to it.”

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