Superstar filly Taghrooda odds-on favourite to complete Oaks double
Classic to be run for second time on Saturday evening with 5.35pm start scheduled
Paul Hanagan rides Taghrooda to take the the Investec Oaks at Epsom in June, Photograph: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
Taghrooda is unlikely to wind up quite as overwhelming a favourite for the Darley Irish Oaks as Australia was for last month’s Irish Derby but John Gosden’s unbeaten superstar appears a standout to complete her own Epsom-Curragh classic double this Saturday.
Australia became the 17th colt to do the Derby double when controversially justifying 1 to 8 odds two-and-a-half weeks ago but the Oaks double is even rarer. Snow Fairy in 2010 was the last to manage it and only the 13th in all.
Nevertheless one bookmaker is forecasting possible odds of as low as 1 to 5 about Taghrooda adding to her Epsom rout at the Curragh this weekend when the Oaks will be run for just the second time on a Saturday evening with a 5.35pm start scheduled.
The complexion of the race will become more clear after today’s forfeit stage at which a
€40,000 supplementary entry remains an option.
Like Taghrooda, the Epsom runner-up Tarfasha is owned by Sheikh Hamdan and the Curragh authorities are keeping their fingers crossed she remains in contention to take part in a classic run on her doorstep just metres from Dermot Weld’s stable.
Aidan O’Brien has narrowed his options down to the Ribblesdale winner Bracelet, the Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Marvellous, as well as Dazzling and Tapestry, while French-trained Shamakala, fourth in the French Oaks last month, is a possible to represent Alain De Royer-Dupre who trained last year’s winner Chicquita.
Joseph Burke of RaceBets said: “Taghrooda was more impressive in the Epsom Oaks than Australia was in the following day’s Derby. And at this stage she looks set to be introduced at around 2 to 9 or 1 to 5 for next Saturday’s Irish Oaks. She appears to be in a different league to any of her female contemporaries this season and it is nigh on impossible to see where any realistic challenger will emerge from.”
John Gosden has already confirmed the Curragh plan for Taghrooda and ground conditions look like turning up ideal for the daughter of Sea The Stars, with watering taking place on good to firm ground.
“The forecast is mostly dry up until Thursday night. There is a possibility of heavy showers over the weekend so we will water today to keep things irrigated, and the grass growing, and then proceed cautiously,” said Curragh manager Paul Hensey.“Dermot Weld’s filly is being considered. And they said at the time they could see no reason why the one-two from Epsom wouldn’t take each other on again. The Ribblesdalde filly is there and there are some from France that are still possible.”
Last year’s evening start time was a move widely regarded as successful in terms of television viewing figures, but audience figures took a significant drop for the Irish Derby a fortnight ago which was run at 5.30pm on a Saturday. RTÉ reported an 86,600 viewing figure for their coverage of that meeting.
Hensey said that race scheduling is always under review but pointed out how TV scheduling, due to a clash with the soccer World Cup, resulted in an earlier
“off” time for the Irish Derby this year. The first Saturday evening renewal of the Irish Derby came in 2012 when Camelot won the final race on the card which was run at 7.40pm. Last year’s race, won by Trading Leather, started at 6.30pm.
“When we first went to a Saturday evening there was an increase in viewership, and in attendance which is important from the racecourse’s point of view . . . but RTÉ came to us this year with an earlier slot because of a clash with the World Cup . . . the audience share overall was higher than the figures being quoted,” said Hensey.