Taghrooda justifies favourite tag for Oaks

Aidan O’Brien’s six runners likely to fall short in Curragh event

Tarasha is joint-second favourite for Saturday’s  Irish Oaks at the Curragh. Photograph: James Crosbie/Inpho.

Tarasha is joint-second favourite for Saturday’s Irish Oaks at the Curragh. Photograph: James Crosbie/Inpho.

Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 01:00

Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell organisation looks to have a firm grip on Saturday evening’s Darley Irish Oaks with the hot-favourite Taghrooda backed up by the filly that finished second to her at Epsom, Tarfasha.

The pair are among a total of 15 fillies remaining in the €400,000 feature after yesterday’s forfeit-stage with half-a-dozen from Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle yard which includes the Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine, Marvellous, as well as the Ribblesdale winner Bracelet.

However it is the revitalised Shadwell team that boasts an outstanding favourite in the unbeaten Taghrooda who is fancied to become a fifth cross-channel-trained winner in six years, her trainer John Gosden having contributed to that tally with Great Heavens in 2012.

Taghrooda is already a general odds-on shot with bookmakers. Paddy Power immediately made her a 4-5 shot ahead of the 6-1 Tarfasha, who shares second-favouritism with Marvellous.

Sheikh Hamdan’s retained jockey Paul Hanagan, champion rider in Britain during 2010-11, will again team up with the impressive Epsom Oaks winner.

Tarfasha travelled from Dermot Weld’s yard to chase home Taghrooda at Epsom but a final decision on whether or not she will get the green light to again tackle her on home ground is likely to be left until later in the week.

‘Good form’

Asked if both fillies could run at the Curragh, Sheikh Hamdan’s racing manager Angus Gold said: “I honestly don’t know and, as is always the case, those decisions will be made by Sheikh Hamdan. We will make a decision on running plans later in the week. Both trainers are keen to run and tell me their fillies are in good form so we’ll see.”

Sheikh Hamdan has never won the Oaks here before but has landed four renewals of the Curragh 1,000 Guineas and memorably supplied the outstanding Salsabil to beat the colts in the 1990 Irish Derby.

Weld has also left the Irish Guineas third Vote Often in this weekend’s classic highlight but Moonstone in 2008 was the last Irish-trained winner of the race and the home team look to face a mammoth task against Taghrooda, famously the first classic winner sired by Sea The Stars.

Chicquita won the Irish Oaks for France last year but there will be no French raider this time and no supplementary entries were made for the race yesterday.

However, four British-trained fillies in total remain, including Luca Cumani’s Volume, third at Epsom, when only beaten a nose by Tarfasha for second.

Richard Hannon’s Lustrous was runner-up to Bracelet at Royal Ascot while further back in eighth in the Ribblesdale was the Mick Channon-trained Nancy From Nairobi.

Watering continued at the Curragh yesterday with 4mms put on a round course that had included some firm patches among an overall ground description of “good to firm.”

Stable companion

Local trainer Paul Deegan has left Avenue Gabriel in the Oaks but also Sunday’s Group Two Kilboy Stakes over nine furlongs, an option that Aidan O’Brien has also kept open for three of his classic entries, Tapestry, Bracelet and Palace who won a Listed race at Killarney on Monday.

Palace has also been left in Sunday’s Group Three Meld Stakes, a race for which her older stable companion Festive Cheer has been supplemented.

Michael Stoute has left Mango Diva – an unlucky fifth behind the subsequent Pretty Polly winner Thistle Bird at Epsom in June – in the Kilboy but most attention is likely to centre on another daughter of Sea The Stars, John Oxx’s high class My Titania.

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