The Curragh takes centre stage on Saturday evening, as some of Britain’s best 3YO fillies fight it out for the prestigious Irish Oaks. EVEN SONG is all the rage and is rightly the odds-on favourite, but there are some serious fillies in the race and it will be far from plain sailing for the Ballydoyle star. Aiden O’Brien runs four in the race, with the usual pacemaker duties included for a big race. Roger Varian and Hugo Palmer head the English raiding party, and will be hoping to take the prize back to England, just as Palmer did last year.
1. AJMAN PRINCESS (R Varian) 7/1
Roger Varian’s filly has been supplemented by her owners, hoping that some of this money stumped up can be repaid come Saturday evening. She has shown promise on all four starts, despite still being a maiden and never actually getting her head in front. She was only 1.5 lengths behind EVEN SONG at Ascot, running on readily in a strong G2 affair. The trip is certainly not an issue and has run well on Soft ground through to Good to Firm. AJMAN PRINCESS is the outside pick for me, despite not seeing how she can get past EVEN SONG; but, then again, far stranger things have happened in racing.
2. AN CAILIN ORGA (J Bolger) 150/1
The price clearly suggests that she is in the race as a pacemaker for the stable’s number one, TURRET ROCKS. She does however have a degree of form to herself, but this has all been on quick ground. Any run over 10F has never been convincing, but connections will be pleased if by 10F she has done her job and TURRET ROCKS benefits in the final stages. This is a huge jump on anything she has ever run in before and the price is an obvious reflection of this.
3. ARCHITECTURE (H Palmer) 6/1
ARCHITECTURE is out to defend the Irish Oaks crown for trainer, Hugo Palmer, after COVERT LOVEs terrific showing last summer. Her Ascot run is extremely puzzling, although many were quick to suggest that the run came soon after her Epsom run that looked to have taken a lot out of the 3YO. She is still a fairly unknown type and this run will reveal how good she really is after a mixed start. There are more questions than answers currently and 6/1 is not generous enough for any of our money. She is best watched on what will reveal her true ability, with little in the way of excuses as of yet.
4. EVEN SONG (AP O’BRIEN) 8/11
It is safe to say EVEN SONG is the one to beat and no one will bat an eyelid over this statement. She has vastly improved this season and was backed heavily on the morning of her victory in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot. The soft ground did nothing to halt her progress and a return to better ground could bring out yet more performance. Ryan Moore is in the saddle and Ballydoyle mean business. They have decided not to run MINDING and must believe EVEN SONG is more than good enough to bring home the bacon.
5. HARLEQUEEN (M Channon) 14/1
The noise is growing regarding HARLEQUEEN’s chances and she has some form to back this up. She has not won as a 3YO, but then again all the races she has entered have been at the top level. She was a very creditable third at Epsom and it is surprising how the market has such a disparity between Mick Channon’s filly and ARCHITECTURE. She has been on a considerable break unlike many of the others and this has clearly been a target a long way out, which is only a positive.
6. PRETTY PERFECT (AP O’Brien) 16/1
A very interesting runner for O’Brien. She has ran nicely all season, bar the one effort in top company. It ultimately leaves us to decide whether this is that she is not good enough at this level or whether we are able to draw a line through it. The ground was testing when 25L behind JET SETTING, but she has shown form on soft before. It is a tricky one to confidently predict and I would leave alone, but nonetheless this filly could spring a surprise and run into the top three or four on her day.
7. RED STARS (J Oxx) 40/1
RED STARS has always ran well, but she has never raced in a field anywhere near as strong as the one she will encounter at the Curragh on Saturday. She ran impressively last time out over 11.5F on testing ground suggesting the trip is in the bag. If anything, the step up in trip seems to have brought about some improvement, but whether this is enough to have any impact at G1 level is doubtful.
8. SEVENTH HEAVEN (AP O’Brien) 28/1
SEVENTH HEAVEN was spoken of in high regard in the run up to Epsom and she was not disgraced in sixth position, despite being a considerable way behind the placed horses. We are in the corner that the trip just is not to suit and that this could be the last chance at this distance. You also have to think that one of SEVENTH HEAVEN or SOMEHOW will be sacrificed for team duties to the benefit of EVEN SONG. This filly beat ARCHITECTURE in an Oaks trial but did not get close at Epsom, suggesting there is not much improvement left. She will be fresh however, and stands a chance of running well if not on pacemaking duties.
9. SOMEHOW (AP O’Brien) 28/1
SOMEHOW is in a similar boat to stablemate SEVENTH HEAVEN. There is undoubtedly potential there and they are both good fillies, but in the competitive G1s are they really good enough? There is a degree of form to this lightly raced filly, but then nothing compares with the Ribblesdale for example. As mentioned above she could be used in the larger scale by Ballydoyle and used for pacemaking duties. One thing for sure is that it will take a hell of a run to get close on Saturday evening.
10. TURRET ROCKS (J Bolger) 14/1
Jim Bolger’s filly has been lightly raced this campaign and you have to feel her best is still to come. She ran respectably in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, but then followed this up with a below par run at Epsom, that has to bring into question the trip and that the extra four furlongs are far from ideal. It will have to be a brilliant training performance to get the trip this time out and truly compete with the big guns.
11. WAY TO MY HEART (J O’Brien) 200/1
Although she is running under the name of Joseph O’Brien, you have to think it is with a big eye on his fathers runners. She is completely out of her depth and has failed in many low key handicaps so far this summer. There is not much to go on, apart from that pacemaking duties will surely be applied.
12. WE ARE NINETY (H Palmer) 25/1
Hugo Palmer’s second filly in the race has slowly improved all summer before being thrown into the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot. She did not embarrass herself and ended only 3L behind EVEN SONG, in sixth place. The better ground should see to a better run again, and we would not be too surprised if this filly beat stablemate ARCHITECTURE once again at the Curragh.