Beauty Parlour looks the one to beat

 

RACING/FRENCH OAKS:AIDAN O’BRIEN is an odds-on favourite to be top trainer at Royal Ascot next week but before that will hope to notch up an eighth Group One success of the season so far in tomorrow’s French Oaks at Chantilly.

Both Kissed (Joseph O’Brien) and Up (Ryan Moore) will fly the Ballydoyle flag in the €1 million Prix De Diane, although they face a tough task against the unbeaten home favourite Beauty Parlour.

Christophe Semillon’s mount was a comfortable one-length winner over Up in the French 1,000 Guineas at Longchamp a month ago and dominates a field of a dozen fillies in the weekend classic, which is due off at 2.45 Irish time.

The Aga Khan is pursuing a seventh Diane victory and has three hopes, including the supplementary entry Valera, who will be ridden by Johnny Murtagh. He also has the Prix Saint-Salary winner Saggart and the unbeaten Dalkey, the mount of Christophe Lanmire.

Ground conditions are set to be soft at Chantilly, which is good news for Kissed, who was taken out of the Epsom Oaks just hours before the race due to the going.

Joseph O’Brien has tasted Group One glory in Britain, Ireland and the USA to date but the 19-year-old jockey has yet to score at the top level in France. He will start from stall 10 aboard Kissed, next door to Beauty Parlour.

Only one Irish-trained horse has ever won the French Oaks before, the Séamus McGrath-handled Sweet Mimosa, who was victorious under Bill Williamson in 1970.

O’Brien Snr is as low as 4-6 to be crowned leading trainer at Royal Ascot with prime Group One prospects such as Fame And Glory (Gold Cup), So You Think (Prince Of Wales’s Stakes) and Power (St James’s Palace Stakes.)

In other news yesterday, Co Meath trainer Ger Lyons confirmed his Cheveley Park Stakes winner Lightening Pearl has been retired following a disappointing effort in Thursday night’s Ballygowan Stakes at Leopardstown.

“She hasn’t been giving us the vibes this year, which I was afraid of, as her mum and sister didn’t train on,” Lyons said. “There were no excuses ground-wise, the ground was good to firm in the straight. She arrived there two-out if good enough, but she didn’t show any signs of encouragement that she was in love with the job.

“She’s won a Group One, you can draw a line through the Guineas because of what happened at the start, and you could persevere, but I don’t see what she could achieve as a three-year-old filly. . . I said we had nothing to achieve so we should put her out. She’ll always hold a special place for me,” he added.

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