Impressive Snowfall set to help Moore end his barren Classic run

Record-breaking Epsom winner aiming to complete an Oaks double for O’Brien at the Curragh

Snowfall will face a maximum of eight rivals as she bids for a classic double in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks at the Curragh on Saturday. Photograph: Mike Egerton/Jockey Club/PA

Snowfall will face a maximum of eight rivals as she bids for a classic double in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks at the Curragh on Saturday. Photograph: Mike Egerton/Jockey Club/PA

 

Ryan Moore could be forgiven for suspecting some sort of Classic jinx should he not emerge victorious from Saturday’s Juddmonte Irish Oaks.

The Englishman teams up with the record-breaking Epsom Oaks heroine Snowfall as she bids to become the 15th filly to complete the fillies’ Classic double at the Curragh.

Snowfall was a spectacular 16 length winner at Epsom and on official figures has a stone and more in hand over her seven rivals.

Three of those are stable companions from Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle team and the champion trainer’s sons, Donnacha and Joseph, have a runner apiece.

The field is filled out by two outsiders chasing some of the €400,000 prizemoney, the 86-rated Ahandfulofsummers and Party House who represents last year’s winning team of Ger Lyons and Colin Keane.

So on the face of it, and even taking into account how fillies can be unpredictable, it’s hard to argue against this looking like as one-sided a Curragh Classic as has been seen in some time.

That will be good news to Moore who hasn’t hit the Classic bullseye since Love’s own Epsom Oaks victory over a year ago.

Since then Coolmore’s No. 1 rider has endured regular frustration when it comes to picking the right Ballydoyle horse.

O’Brien has half a dozen Classics in the bag already this year but his top rider hasn’t been on any of them.

Granted three of them were in France where travel restrictions from Britain meant Moore missed out on both St Mark’s Basilica (2,000 Guineas and Derby) and Joan Of Arc in the Prix De Diane.

However he was also edged out in the Irish 1,000 by Seamus Heffernan on Empress Josephine and twice his faith in Santa Barbara resulted in a gleeful Frankie Dettori picking up a Classic ‘spare’.

If Mother Earth was good in the 1,000 Guineas then the way Snowfall landed the Oaks will have had Moore scratching his head.

He had after all ridden the Japanese-bred to success in the Musidora prior to Epsom. But she looked in another league again at Epsom, scooting clear at her apparent leisure to put 16 lengths between herself and Mother Angel with Snowfall’s stable-mate Divinely in third.

Short odds

The latter subsequently ran in Royal Ascot’s Ribblesdale and finished fourth, a place behind another Coolmore filly, Nicest.

Bookmakers have that pair next best in the betting for Saturday’s feature which suggests Snowfall is on the brink of enjoying a straightforward second Classic victory at prohibitively short odds.

Moore knows better than most though how odds are no guarantor of Classic success at the Curragh.

He was on board the 1-7 Order Of St George who memorably got turned over by the Dettori-ridden Wicklow Brave in the Leger five years ago.

If nothing else then Moore will be glad his great Italian rival is staying at home for two rides in Haydock on Saturday.

However it is easy to envisage Snowfall’s odds tumbling to something like the 1-5 Camelot did the job in when he won the Derby back in 2012.

Those prepared to take her on might argue that this will be the fastest ground Snowfall has faced since her debut as a two year old.

Both the Musidora and the Oaks were officially run on good to soft conditions and Epsom in particular looked testing as evidenced by the field coming to the stands side.

It will be very different on watered ground at the height of summer in a mini-heatwave. But then again Snowfall has looked a very different filly in her two starts this year.

She is bred to go on any surface and Epsom left an impression of quality deep enough to have her at the forefront of the Arc betting.

Enable won the Irish Oaks in 2017 on-route to her first Arc and did so at odds of 2-5.

Snowfall is likely to start even shorter and it will be a surprise if comparisons to the former star mare don’t gather pace after 3.25 on Saturday.

Stepping stone

A win for her, or either of her three stable companions, will see O’Brien equal Sir Michael Stoute’s Irish record of wins.

Seamus Heffernan is on Willow who landed a Listed race at Naas last time that proved a perfect stepping stone to Oaks glory for Even So a year ago.

However since Willow was last behind Snowfall at Epsom it’s an uphill task to make a case for such a resounding reverse taking place.

Ground conditions also look crucial to consideration of the Group Two Paddy Power Sapphire Stakes on Saturday.

The bargain buy Logo Hunter has been one of the feelgood stories of the season but has shown his best on soft going.

Even better may be to come but the way Romantic Proposal travelled through her last race here suggests the mare looks up to pouncing late again.

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