Irish Oaks headllines a huge weekend at Curragh

curraghFrom GBI Racing

Saturday 16 July
The Curragh

A two-day meeting at The Curragh plays features the Darley Irish Oaks (2400m). Surprisingly for an Irish Classic, Aidan O’Brien hasn’t been totally dominant in recent times, for all he has won four of the last 10 renewals. His Epsom heroine Minding is likely to miss a bid at winning the double, as Ribblesdale Stakes winner Even Song is reportedly likely to be Ballydoyle’s number one challenger.

It will be interesting to see what turns up among the British challenge, with Hugo Palmer having won his first Classic in the race 12 months ago when Covert Love memorably ran her rivals ragged under Pat Smullen.

Other notable races at the meeting include the Jebel Ali Racecourse Anglesey Stakes (1300m, Group Three, two-year-olds), the 1400m Group Two Friarstown Stud Minstrel Stakes and the Kilboy Estates Stakes (Group Two, 1800m, fillies and mares).


The prospect of an Aidan O’Brien one-horse race in Saturday’s Darley Irish Oaks appears to have been avoided with newsearlier this week that two British-trained runners have beenadded to the line-up for the 2400m Classic contest.

With O’Brien’s hand looking stronger week by week this season,the trainer can afford to divert Group One-winning machine Minding away from the race in favour of Ribblesdale Stakes winner Even Song, herself a proven high-class performer who bypassed Epsom presumably with this race always in mind.

Even Song figures among a number of stablemates in the possible runners, but the rest are surely only set to figure among the supporting cast – although, interestingly O’Brien’s son, Joseph, could also field his first runner at this level in Way To My Heart.

Ajman Princess, trained by Roger Varian and one of the two supplementary entries, finished second to Even Song last time out at Royal Ascot, but her trainer is optimistic despite his charge still being a maiden heading to the Curragh.

“I feel she is progressing at a rate of knots and she will certainly not look out of place in Group One company,” reports Varian.

“I think the galloping nature of the Curragh will suit her and she is versatile in terms of ground. It looks like being just on the easy side at the weekend, which should not prove problematic.”

Newmarket neighbour Hugo Palmer knows what it takes to win the race, having sent Covert Love across to score 12 months ago. He has Architecture and We Are Ninety in the line-up. Architecture was below-par when further back in the Ribblesdale and needs to bounce back to the form she showed when coming out clear second-best behind Minding at Epsom.

The two-day meeting at The Curragh features a number of other high-class contests, including an attempt to set the record straight by champion sprinting mare Mecca’s Angel.

The Michael Dods-trained runner was narrowly beaten in the Kilfrush Stud Sapphire Stakes over 1000m 12 months ago before showing her true colours when claiming Group One glory in the Nunthorpe at York. However, following a pleasing return to action at Haydock in May, she proved disappointing when a hot favourite for the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot last time out.

G Force, winner of the 2014 Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock when in the care of David O’Meara, is an eyecatching potential rival now in the care of Adrian Keatley, but as well as Mecca’s Angel, British interests are well represented with Kevin Ryan’s Brando, the Jeremy Gask-trained Medicean Man, Mick Channon’s Divine, David Evans’ Gracious John and the Robert Cowell-trained duo of Spirit Quartz and Iffranesia all possible starters.

There are two Group Twos also on Sunday’s card, with the unbeaten Hit It A Bomb, off the course since last year’s Breeders’ Cup, particularly taking the eye in the Friarstown Minstrel Stakes over 1400m.


GBI Group Races This Weekend

Saturday, July 16 (am EDT)


Darley Irish Oaks (Group 1)
Sapphire Stakes (Group 2)
Jebel Ali Anglesey Stakes (Group 3)


Al Basti Equiworld Hackwood Stakes (Group 3)

Sunday, July 17


Kilboy Estate Stakes (Group 3)
Minstrel Stakes (Group 3)

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