Seventh Heaven steps up to take the Irish Oaks at 14-1

Winner for Aidan O’Brien despite poor performance from odds-on favourite Even Song

Seventh Heaven ridden by Seamie Heffernan takes the Irish Oaks at the Curragh. Photograph: PA

Seventh Heaven ridden by Seamie Heffernan takes the Irish Oaks at the Curragh. Photograph: PA

 

Seventh Heaven put behind her a below-par display at Epsom to spring a surprise in the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh.

The daughter of Galileo was giving Aidan O’Brien his fifth success in the fillies’ Classic though she was not her trainer’s main hope.

That was Ribblesdale Stakes winner Even Song, who was well-beaten despite being sent off the 4-5 favourite.

Seventh Heaven (14-1) had only finished sixth in the Investec Oaks and returned to the form she showed to win the Lingfield Oaks Trial from Architecture and she had that rival back in second place again.

Pretty Perfect, another O’Brien inmate, made the running until she was overhauled in the final quarter-mile and it was Seventh Heaven, in the hands of Seamie Heffernan, who pulled clear to win by two and three-quarter lengths.

The Hugo Palmer-trained Architecture, ridden by Frankie Dettori, was second, with Mick Channon’s Harlequeen a length and a quarter away in third as that pair repeated their placings at Epsom behind the O’Brien-trained Minding.

Roger Varian’s Ajman Princess, who was replated at the start, was eased right down by Andrea Atzeni soon after entering the straight.

Heffernan said: “We’re blessed with fillies and they are taking their races well. She just didn’t handle Epsom.

“She was a bit more relaxed today.

“If I was given the choice I’d have probably ridden Even Song. I wasn’t and there wasn’t much between the rest of them. With fillies some of them shine and some don’t.”

Seventh Heaven was slashed to 5-1 joint-favourite from 33-1 for the Yorkshire Oaks with Paddy Power. RaceBets went 9-1 from the same price.

Meanwhile O’Brien will set the bar higher still for Peace Envoy after he gave the master of Ballydoyle his 10th success in the Jebel Ali Racecourse & Stables Anglesey Stakes

Already with five previous runs under his belt, including a fourth in the Norfolk Stakes before his runner-up finish in the Railway Stakes, the Power colt was the 3-1 second-favourite behind Coventry Stakes third Psychedelic Funk, who was sent off a shade of odds-on.

Ambiguity and Mirdif cut out the running and all appeared to be going to plan when the favourite was angled out to make his challenge over a furlong out.

He found less than expected, though, whereas Ryan Moore was just hitting top gear on Peace Envoy, who swooped nearest the stands side rails to land the Group Three by a length and three-quarters.

“He’s getting better this horse and is progressing well,” said O’Brien.

“He’s a big horse. We thought he would progress and he is. You’d have to be very happy with him there.

“Every week he is getting better. He’s getting bigger and stronger and his mind is coming lovely. Ryan was very happy with him.

“Ryan was very confident after riding him the last day as he knew the horse well. He was very confident on him.”

He went on: “He could come back here for the Phoenix Stakes if Caravaggio doesn’t come or he could go for the Morny.

“On today you wouldn’t say he wouldn’t get seven furlongs.

“He reminds me very much of Rock Of Gibraltar. Knowing ‘Rock’ he’s very much like him, although he has a long way to come, obviously.”

Mecca’s Angel will head to York to defend her Nunthorpe crown in top form after emphatically banishing memories of a poor Royal Ascot performance in the Kilfrush Stud Sapphire Stakes.

Michael Dods’ brilliant mare flopped when a hot favourite for the King’s Stand but won the Nunthorpe last year after finishing second in this Group Two affair.

A well-backed 5-4 favourite to show her true colours, she raced in second before Paul Mulrennan asked her to go and win her race inside the final couple of furlongs, and the acceleration was back as she dashed three lengths clear of compatriot Brando.

Dods said: “It was just a bit of a disaster in Ascot where she was in season.

“We weren’t sure at the time and checked everything, but couldn’t find anything wrong. She had three weeks off and is back cantering 12 days.

“There were two things in Ascot. She was in season, which she doesn’t show, plus the ground.

“Everyone thinks she wants it bottomless, but that is her ground. I walked the track with Paul Mulrennan and we said it was beautiful, on the easy side of good.

“That was the ground she had in Longchamp and when she won the Nunthorpe.

“I told Paul to take a lead and he said she ran on strongly to the line.

“You’re always worried after Ascot that there is something you don’t know, but she showed her ability today, although it wasn’t the strongest field for her.”

He added: “She doesn’t want it firm and easy good is perfect. York will be next, but it’s just nice to get her back today.

“I would have been happy if she had finished second today but run her race.

Everyone has worked so hard to get her back as Ascot was only just over a month ago and she finished right out the back then.”

Mulrennan’s day got even better when he guided Mick Easterby’s Perfect Pasture (16-1) to victory in the valuable evoke.ie Scurry Handicap later on the card.

Mulrennan said: “It’s nice to get a winner for Mick Easterby as I was apprentice to him for long enough.”

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