Kevin Manning can guide Volume to Irish Oaks glory

Luca Cumani’s raider has the ability to see off local challengers in Curragh classic

Taghrooda’s absence from today’s Darley Irish Oaks means no overwhelming Curragh classic favourite, something which in turn could provoke contradictory accusations from some quarters of a lack of star-quality.

Volume though can produce a result that confirms to a much more consistent trend at HQ.

It’s half a dozen years since there’s been a home-trained winner of this weekend’s €400,000 highlight but Dermot Weld’s Tarfasha, runner-up to the outstanding Targhooda in the Epsom Oaks, as well as a five-strong team from Ballydoyle, lead the charge to change that stat.

Much interest will centre on ground conditions which were still quick enough yesterday to provoke watering, as well as an intriguing set of jockey arrangements among the Aidan O’Brien team which sees the champion trainer’s son, Joseph, on board Tapestry.


That the champion rider overlooks the Ribblesdale winner, Bracelet, not to mention a first-time blinkered classic winner in Marvellous, is especially eye-catching when considering Tapestry has yet to race beyond a mile.

She has always seemed to be the leader among Ballydoyle's three year old fillies in terms of reputation but it's a big ask to step straight up to a mile and a half in classic company. Jockey booking Not surprisingly Pat Smullen has picked Tarfasha over Weld's other runner, Vote Often, but it's another jockey booking that may be in focus come 6.00 this evening.

Kevin Manning has secured Group 1 victories around the world during an illustrious career. All of them, including Margarula's 33-1 Curragh Oaks win a dozen years ago, have been for his father-in-law, Jim Bolger.

Luca Cumani though has turned to Manning's vast local knowledge for Volume today and that could tip things towards a fifth Irish classic win for the Newmarket trainer, and a first since 2002.

From a high draw at Epsom last month, Volume attempted to make all and although Taghrooda went by her easily, she was far from swallowed up.

In fact only for becoming patently unbalanced on the camber, the Cumani runner would surely have held off Tarfasha for second.

As it was there was only a nose in it at the line and Volume was finishing best of the pair.

Considering Pat Smullen’s initial reaction at Epsom was that the Oaks had stretched Tarfasha’s stamina to the limit, it’s possible to see the Curragh suiting the English raider much more, and in betting terms the value looks to lie with Volume.

Toscanini and Dick Whittington renew Chesham Stakes hostilities in the Group Three Anglesey Stakes and the latter could just edge it and contribute to what may be a notably successful day for Ballydoyle.

Blackstone won a maiden at Killarney on Tuesday, finished well in a handicap at Leopardstown on Thursday and isn’t being allowed rest on his laurels with another quick reappearance in today’s nine furlong handicap.

Along with Annus Mirabilis and St Patricks Day in the opening juvenile maiden, it all looks to add up to a strong HQ challenge by O’Brien

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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