Aidan O’Brien hoping it’s third time lucky for Happily in French Oaks
Filly second-favourite for Chantilly Classic, rare June jumps meeting at Punchestown
Happily (R) is bidding for French Oaks glory on Sunday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Aidan O’Brien will hope it’s a classic case of third time lucky for his star filly Happily in Sunday’s French Oaks.
Happily started favourite for both the English and Irish 1,000 Guineas but had to settle for third on each occasion.
However she is set to be stepped up from a mile for this weekend’s €1 million Prix De Diane and is rated as low as 7-2 second-favourite for the Chantilly classic after 15 were left in the race on Tuesday.
The Aga Khan’s Listed winner Shahnaza is a general 3-1 favourite for a classic won only once before by an Irish trained runner - Sweet Mimosa in 1970.
However Happily boasts perhaps the outstanding piece of form in the race having beaten two classic winning colts, Olmedo and the Derby winner, Masar, in last year’s Prix Jean Luc Lagadere.
O’Brien has endured French Oaks frustration up to now including last year when the highly-fancied Rhododendron had to be pulled up having burst a blood vessel during the race.
Two other overseas contenders, Godolphin’s Wild Illusion and Karl Burke’s Alary winner Laurens, also remain in the Diane although there could yet be supplementary entries later in the week.
The focus in Ireland on Wednesday will be on Punchestown which stages a rare mid-June National Hunt card.
Quick ground has had to be extensively watered for this meeting but conditions won’t be any trouble to the high class Ballyoisin who faces eight opponents in a novice chase.
Paul Townend makes his return to action in Ireland after serving a 21-day ban for dangerous riding at the festival here and rides Ballycasey in this contest.
However this looks a good opportunity for Ballyoisin who rattles off fast going as he showed last time at Killarney.
“I know it’s two mile-five but he was second to Disko at Down Royal over nearly two mile-four in November on soft ground so the trip shouldn’t be a problem. He’ll like the ground so we’re looking for a big run,” his trainer Enda Bolger reported.
Henry De Bromhead runs three in the following handicap chase and on the ground it could be Mullinavat who emerges best of all.
He won three in a row last Autumn including an impressive victory at Tramore over fences. Mullinvat also won after a break at Wexford last summer.