History and sentiment swell the support for Riposte in Saturday’s Irish Oaks

Talent still the bookies’ favourite to double-up following Epsom Oaks win

A lot of sentiment and a touch of history will revolve around Riposte’s classic ambitions in Saturday evening’s Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh.

Supplemented into the race at a cost of €40,000 on Monday, Riposte's challenge will be masterminded by Lady Jane Cecil and victory would make her just the second woman ever to officially train a classic winner in Ireland.

Frances Crowley remains the sole female ever to manage the feat, with Saoire who landed the 1,000 Guineas back in 2005.

It was that same 1,000 Guineas that provided the late Sir Henry Cecil with his very first classic success 40 years ago with Cloonagh and there is likely to be a huge groundswell of goodwill behind Riposte who was under the care of the legendary trainer up to his death just over a month ago.


The Juddmonte-owned filly has already provided a fairy-tale result for Cecil’s widow after landing the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot last month and she is one of the market-leaders to pull off a double that Cecil memorably pulled off with Alydaress in 1989.

She was one of three Irish Oaks winners Cecil put through his hands. The others were Epsom Oaks heroines, Ramruma (1999) and Dimenuendo who dead-heated with Melodist in 1988.

The late trainer also won the Irish Derby twice and his Curragh links remained almost to the end of his life as Chigun landed a Group Three at HQ just a couple of weeks before his death.

Yesterday there was significant support for Riposte in some ante-post betting lists with Paddy Power cutting her to 7-2 second-favourite behind the Epsom Oaks winner Talent.

As a result the shortest-priced home-hope, Alive Alive Oh, lengthened to 4-1, alongside Talent’s stable-companion, Secret Gesture.

A total of 13 fillies have completed the Epsom-Curragh Oaks double, the last of them being Snow Fairy who was retired yesterday after a recurrence of leg trouble.

Final declaration
Talent has already been confirmed a definite starter in the fourth classic of the year, but a call on whether or not Secret Gesture travels to the Curragh won't be made by trainer Ralph Beckett until closer to tomorrow morning's final declaration stage.

Ground conditions remained “good to firm” at the Curragh yesterday with the round course being watered.

“We watered the straight course on Monday and I’d say it was more good than firm afterwards. We’ll aim for something similar on the round and I would imagine we’ll be watering right up to race-day. There’s a ‘High’ being forecast for the end of the week,” said Curragh manager Paul Hensey.

The other Oaks supplementary is Aidan O’Brien’s Venus De Milo, unbeaten in two starts, but who will endeavour to win a classic just 38 days after making her debut. It isn’t new ground for the champion trainer though, as he prepared Ruler Of The World to win the Derby, only 55 days after that colt’s first ever race.

The Curragh’s Sunday feature will be the Group Two Kilboy Estate Stakes, for which 15 entries were left in at yesterday’s forfeit stage.

They include the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Dank, third to Duntle at Royal Ascot, and vanquisher of Chigun at Newmarket prior to that, and the only other cross-channel entry, Emirates Queen, 20-1 winner of the Lancashire Oaks earlier this month for Luca Cumani.

Three of Aidan O’Brien’s Oaks entries, Magical Dream, Just Pretending and Say also figure among the Kilboy entries, as does Jim Bolger’s classic possible, Scintillula.

Trainer Tom Hogan has confirmed his Group One winner Gordon Lord Byron will line up in Saturday's Minstrel Stakes, before going on his top-flight travels again, after a Golden Jubilee fourth last time out.

“We probably have a busy autumn set up for him. He’ll be travelling so I thought we’d leave him at home and the owners would like to run at home again,” he said. “The Curragh looks a suitable opportunity and the ground is no problem. We will probably go to the Maurice de Gheest and maybe take on Lethal Force again . . .

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column