Substitute Even Song on track for Oaks glory at the Curragh
2-5 favourite shows strength in depth of Aidan O’Brien’s filly team
Aidan O’Brien is sending a pair of three-year-old fillies to the feature race on day one of Killarney’s July festival. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
As substitutes go, Even Song looks a potentially irresistible replacement for Minding in this Saturday’s Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh. With the outstanding five-time Group 1 winner likely to wait for next month’s Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, the strength in depth of Aidan O’Brien’s filly team is emphasised by Even Song being as low as 2-5 favourite to graduate to classic glory herself in the €400,000 feature.
The daughter of Mastercraftsman landed Royal Ascot’s Ribblesdale Stakes in impressive fashion where the Hugo Palmer-trained Architecture could finish only eighth. Palmer won last year’s Oaks with Covert Love and has signalled his intention to supplement Architecture into the Curragh classic at a cost of €40,000 at Tuesday’s forfeit stage.
Prior to her Ribblesdale run, Architecture had finished runner up to Minding in the Oaks at Epsom where Harlequeen finished third. Palmer could also be represented on Saturday by We Are Ninety. Nevertheless, with a number of other high-class Ballydoyle fillies still in the mix, the odds look to heavily favour a fifth Irish Oaks victory for O’Brien and a 35th Irish classic success in total for the champion trainer.
“Architecture is the only supplementary entry I’m aware of at the moment but that can always change,” Curragh spokesman Paul Hensey said. “The ground here is currently on the easy side of good. The forecast is mixed so I would imagine we will be good, or on the slower side of good, by Saturday although it’s impossible to tell precisely at this stage,” he added.
Saturday’s classic has a 5.45 ‘off’ time and it will be the fourth time the Oaks takes place on a Saturday evening. The Curragh Derby was moved to a Saturday evening slot a year previously in 2012.
“We always review these things and each year is different. For instance we could have a good look at the Saturday evening date for the Oaks next year because there are three weeks between the English and Irish Derbies in 2017 which would leave only two weeks to the Oaks and possibly cause a clash with the July Cup which is also sponsored by Darley.
“That isn’t certain but it is something we will look at. The Saturday evening has worked for us in terms of clashes with GAA matches and with television coverage. But these things are reviewed year by year,” Hensey said.
Spencer also did best of an O’Brien duo in the Belmont Oaks as Coolmore finished third to the Canadian filly, Catch A Glimpse. The Group 1 winner, Ballydoyle, started favourite and finished last.
O’Brien sends another pair of three-year-old fillies to the feature race on day one of Killarney’s July festival, the Cairn Rouge Stakes. Earring looks the pick of them and she goes to the extended mile event on the back of a good second to Discipline in a similar grade at Naas. Discipline’s stable companion Emergent disappointed in a couple of starts in the spring but Dermot Weld should have a good idea where he stands with Earring and the race could wind up as another head to head between the two powerhouse outfits in Irish racing at the moment.
Dixie Highway was in good form over hurdles in May and didn’t enjoy the best of passages when reappearing on the flat in Bellewstown. Pat Flynn’s horse can make the most of a drop in trip to land the second of the card’s flat handicaps.