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OBrien likely to run two in bid to land third Guineas.

Byline: TONY O'HEHIR

FOOTSTEPSINTHESAND and Oratorio emerged yesterday as the most likely Ballydoyle contenders for the 2,000 Guineas, as trainer Aidan O'Brien seeks a third win in the race a year on from One Cool Cat's dismal flop.

O'Brien, who has ten entries in the UltimatePoker.com-sponsored Classic, said: ``At this stage, Footstepsinthesand and Oratorio are possibles for the Guineas. They are getting there fitness-wise and the next week will tell us a lot more.''

Both colts will be heading to the April 30 contest at Newmarket without a prep run, a policy O'Brien employed with his Guineas winners King Of Kings and Rock Of Gibraltar.

However, the trainer ruled his Middle Park Stakes winner Ad Valorem out of the race, saying: ``We are giving Ad Valorem more time as he had three runs in the space of a month at the end of last season. We are going to let him tell us when he is ready to start off.''

Oratorio achieved Group 1 success in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp in October before finishing second to Shamardal in the Dewhurst Stakes.

Footstepsinthesand, who was backed from 10-1 to 3-1 when scoring on his debut at Naas in October, went on to land the Group 3 Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown on his only subsequent start.

Among O'Brien's other Guineas entries are Racing Post Trophy runner-up Albert Hall, Cougar Cat, who split Oratorio and Indesatchel in the Anglesey Stakes, and the well-touted Tiger Dance, a winner on his only start last year.

Kitty O'Shea, a wide-margin winner at The Curragh on the opening day of the season in Ireland, is to miss the 1,000 Guineas. One of six entries for Ballydoyle in the race, she also holds an entry in the Vodafone Oaks.

O'Brien said: ``She won't be going for the Guineas. She had a break after her win at The Curragh and Newmarket comes a bit soon. We'll wait a bit and probably step her up in trip.''

Jim Bolger yesterday confirmed that a return to Newmarket on April 30 is firmly on the agenda for Democratic Deficit following his win in the Craven Stakes at the course on Thursday.

``I'm very happy with him,'' Bolger told At The Races yesterday. ``I was very happy with him going into the Craven and my staff have reported him well this morning so, all being well, he will be back for the Guineas.''

The Coolcullen-based trainer was also quick to praise the ride of Kevin Manning in a race in which runner-up Rob Roy and close fourth Iceman met with traffic problems.

``He only had a trouble-free run on the outside because Kevin probably won the race in the first furlong,'' Bolger said. ``He was in between horses and having a hard time, and Kevin opted to take him back, which was very sensible. He had a clear run on the outside after that.''

OAKS Coral: 8 Playful Act, 12 Intrigued, Kitty O'Shea, 14 Ayam Zaman, 16 Dash To The Top, 20 Fashionable, 25 bar.

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Oratorio: winner of Group 1 in France
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 16, 2005
Words:516
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