Cayenne Pepper looks to make the most of classic opportunity

On her Guineas effort, Joseph O’Brien’s New York Girl is right in the mix

Jessica Harrington: the trainer will have high hopes for ante-post favourite Cayenne Pepper’s chances in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks at the Curragh. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Jessica Harrington: the trainer will have high hopes for ante-post favourite Cayenne Pepper’s chances in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks at the Curragh. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Another “domestic only” Curragh classic means a rare home-trained winner of the Juddmonte Irish Oaks is assured on Saturday.

Even ahead of September’s Leger – or if an all-aged race really counts – the coronavirus pandemic has already made for a dispiritingly parochial 2020 classic programme.

Saturday evening’s €250,000 highlight is minus the season’s outstanding filly, Love, as well as the French Oaks heroine Fancy Blue.

So in a race won seven times in the last decade by overseas runners it appears a prime classic opportunity for any of the eight fillies lining up behind closed doors at 7.15.

They’re topped by Jessica Harrington’s ante-post favourite Cayenne Pepper whose opposition includes four Ballydoyle hopes as Aidan O’Brien chases a record-equalling sixth win in the race.

O’Brien has already won a 14th Irish Derby and a ninth Irish 1,000 Guineas in this singular season while Ger Lyons, who produced Siskin in the 2,000, runs both Even So and Yaxeni in this latest classic.

Nevertheless there will be widespread support of Cayenne Pepper who has always figured prominently in the rankings of Harrington’s high-class team of three year old fillies.

She returned to action later than all of them in the Pretty Polly Stakes over Derby weekend when chasing home the top-class older filly Magical.

The latter won as she liked but, considering expectations didn’t appear to be too high beforehand, Cayenne Pepper’s run seemed to delight the Harrington camp.

It means she brings the highest rating, 111, into Saturday’s race, 4lbs clear of O’Brien’s apparent No.1 Ennistymon.

The latter chased home her stable companion Love at Epsom although even the nine-length margin probably doesn’t truly indicate the winner’s superiority. Ennistymon is only just rated superior to her Group Three-winning stable companion, the classically bred Snow, as well as the filly that might just supply betting value in the race, New York Girl.

Joseph O’Brien is playing classic ‘catch-up’ with both his father and his brother Donnacha in 2020 and has a score to settle with this race in particular.

Slipped saddle

O’Brien was hugely unlucky as a jockey in 2014 when just beaten on Tapestry despite that top-class filly stumbling leaving the gate and her partner having to ride the entire race with a slipped saddle.

O’Brien also saddled Iridessa a year ago but that top-class talent failed to fire after earlier Pretty Polly victory.

Should a similar fate await Cayenne Pepper then New York Girl may be able to make it third time lucky in a classic this season.

Despite a less than clear run at a vital point, she finished right on the heels of Peaceful and Fancy Blue in the 1,000 on very fast ground. That promoted a €50,000 supplementary entry into the Irish Derby last month but on softer going she failed to fire against colts.

On her Guineas effort though New York Girl is right in the mix and could step up to give O’Brien, 27, another classic as a trainer to go with Latrobe’s 2018 Irish Derby.

It would be a landmark success for New York Girl’s jockey, 18-year-old Shane Crosse. The former champion apprentice cannot use his claim but gets a chance to emulate both O’Brien, who won the Irish 2,000 Guineas as an apprentice on Roderic O’Connor, and Jamie Spencer, also a classic winner as a 17-year -old on Tarascon in the 1998 Irish 1,000 Guineas.

A trio of Group Two prizes back up Saturday’s highlight and the 2018 Curragh Guineas hero Romanised is back defending his crown in the Minstrel Stakes.

Last year Ken Condon’s star used this to tee up another top-flight success in the Marois at Deauville but this time is making his first start of the year.

At his best he has something to spare over this opposition but that best might come in France next month. It usually comes too when Romanised has a strong pace to aim at and Lancaster House proved in the Gladness his capacity to control the tempo to suit himself.

Sunday’s card at HQ also has three Group Two races including the flying juvenile Frenetic stepping up to six furlongs for the first time in the Airlie Stud Stakes.

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