O’Brien strong for Oaks
Saturday’s Darley Irish Oaks looks set to be a memorable renewal with 16 fillies in contention for the fourth Irish Classic of the season at the Curragh.
Epsom Oaks winner Qualify spearheads a strong Aidan O’Brien team for the race and the supplemented pair of Curvy, trained by David Wachman and the Hugo Palmer-trained Covert Love add real intrigue to what should be a fascinating race.
Curvy will step up to Group 1 company for the first time after being supplemented for the race at a cost of €40,000 following her impressive win in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, while Covert Love will look to continue the fantastic record of overseas winners in the race having won all three of her outings this season including a listed event at Newcastle last month.
Aidan O’Brien is responsible for seven of the 16 that remain in the race ahead of Thursday’s declaration stage and regarding running arrangements the Ballydoyle trainer said; “It will all depend on how they are working and what way the ground will be – there is a little bit of rain hanging around – some of them would like it nice and some of them would like it on the soft side.
“A mile and a half should suit Together Forever well, Qualify is a possible depending on ground and work and Words is a filly that has only had two runs, she won her Group 3 at Cork nicely.”
Jim Bolger will look to win the Irish Oaks for a third time in his career with Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Pleascach his leading contender and she is joined by stable companions Deontas and Stellar Glow, while Jessica Harrington will look for a first Classic triumph with Jack Naylor.
This year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby winning trainer John Gosden looks likely to return in search of more big race honours as he is one four British trainers with an entry. The Darley Irish Oaks has been a race that has gone for export five times in the last six years and Gosden has left in Gretchen who was fifth behind Curvy in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot. Ralph Beckett’s charge Forte was sixth on that occasion at Royal Ascot and is another possible for the race while James Fanshawe’s Speedy Boarding has won both her starts this season, most recently a listed contest at Newbury.
Saturday’s chief supporting races are the Group 2 Invincible Spirit Sapphire Stakes with a strong British trained team of six entries and the Group 3 Jebel Ali Racecourse & Stables Anglesey Stakes and racing gets underway at 3.05pm.
Sunday’s feature race is the Group 2 Kilboy Estate Stakes with Dermot Weld’s high class filly Brooch, Bocca Baciata, Raydara and a strong British trained challenge including Bragging, Local Times and Mutatis Mutandis all included and the Group 3 Friarstown Stud Minstrel Stakes with entries including Ansgar, Gordon Lord Byron, Home of the Brave and War Envoy also taking place on Sunday where the first race is due off at 2.05pm.
Racecourse manager Paul Hensey described the ground as Good all over and he added; “There was some rain this morning (Tuesday) which is to clear later today and it is to be dry tomorrow with further rain forecast for Thursday.”
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