Aidan O’Brien will endeavour to continue his terrific season by despatching Moonstone to The Curragh for this Sunday’s Darley Irish Oaks.
As all racing aficionados will be only too aware, O’Brien has already saddled the winners of all three Irish Classics run so far this year. He sent out top miler Henrythenavigator to win the 2,000 Guineas, Halfway To Heaven landed the 1,000 Guineas and Frozen Fire credited the Ballydoyle maestro with a remarkable sixth victory in the Irish Derby by landing last month’s renewal under Seamie Heffernan.
Can Moonstone continue O’Brien’s dominance by landing the Irish Oaks a little after 4.10 pm on Sunday afternoon? Yes, she can.
A British-bred, Moonstone belied her 25/1 starting price by occupying the runner-up position behind Look Here in the Epsom Oaks on June 6th being beaten some three and three quarter lengths.
Moonstone however previously came a soundly beaten fourth when well fancied behind Lush Lashes in the ‘Musidora’ at York. O’Brien’s fillies though often improve as the summer progresses and as we all know his charge Peeping Fawn went on to win four Group 1s’ including the Irish Oaks after finishing second in last year’s Epsom Oaks. Moonstone may not be in the same class as Peeping Fawn, but she’s still a formidable filly and she can get her name on the Classic roll of honour this weekend.
A big danger to Moonstone could emerge in the form of John Oxx’s Katiyra, who actually came home in third spot in the Epsom Oaks.
By Peintre Celebre, Katiyra had just one run under her belt this season before Epsom and that was when she finished second to Carribean Sunset in the Derrinstown Stud 1,000 Guineas Trial over a mile at Leopardstown in early May. Katiyra, winner of a seven furlong fillies’ maiden on her sole juvenile start at Leopardstown last August, traces back to former Epsom/Irish Derby winner Shahrastani. A March 20th foal, Katiyra won’t have any stamina concerns and she’s definitely one for the short list. Oxx by the way won consecutive renewals of the Irish Oaks with Ebadiyla and Winona in 1997 & 98.
Dermot Weld may be represented by Mad About You. By Indian Ridge, Mad About You was promoted to second spot behind Halfway To Heaven on her initial outing of the season in the Irish 1, 000 Guineas. She then indicated that she wasn’t troubled by the step up to 10 furlongs by chasing home the year-older Promising Lead, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, in the Group 1 Audi Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh on Irish Derby weekend.
Jim Bolger, who was credited with his initial Classic winner courtesy of Give Thanks in the 1983 Irish Oaks, looks set to capture the afternoon’s main supporting event the Dubai Duty Free Anglesey Stakes with Intense Focus.
By Giant’s Causeway, Intense Focus has already run some four times this season. He finished a fine second to Art Connoisseur in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes over six furlongs at Royal Ascot and then came a fine third to Mastercraftsman in the Group 2 One 51 Railway Stakes at The Curragh on Irish Derby day. If anything, the step up in trip to six and a half furlongs will suit Intense Focus and the American-bred is duly taken to get the better of Westphalia.
Beach Bunny appeals as the most likely winner of the Kilboy Estate Stakes, a listed race for fillies and mares over nine furlongs.
The Kevin Prendergast-trained Beach Bunny posted a truly commendable effort by finishing fourth to Promising Lead and Mad About You in the Group 1 Audi Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh on June 28th. The form of that race has of course received a major boost in the interim as the third placed animal in that race, Richard Fahey’s stable star Anna Pavlova won the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock last Saturday. The likelihood is that Beach Bunny will be chased home by Love To Dance.
It’s worth recalling that Jim Bolger has won the Jebel Ali Stables & Racecourse European Breeders Fund (C & G) Maiden for the past three years and in 2007, the race was won by none other that his current stable star and Epsom Derby winner New Approach.
The likelihood is that Bolger will extend his sequence in the forthcoming renewal with Tomas An Tsioda.
By Bachelor Duke, Tomas An Tsioda won a seven furlong maiden at headquarters on Irish Derby weekend only to duly get disqualified and placed second in favour of Rip Van Winkle in the stewards room. Tomas An Tsioda appears a quite talented colt and he should attain consolation here at the expense of Driving Snow.
Dermot Weld’s Prince Erik is bound to be ideally suited by the likely soft surface in the Thalgo Ladies Derby Handicap and the grey is put forward to oblige from Galilean whilst Lady Schmuck should complete a quick three-timer for trainer Tracey Collins by proving marginally superior to He’s Got Rhythm in the Ladbrokes Rockingham Handicap.
There’s also racing at The Curragh on Saturday with the Group 3 Keeneland International Stakes occupying top billing.
Mustameet is one of the most admirable flat horses in training in this country and Kevin Prendergast’s charge should continue on his merry way in this €80,000 contest.
Mustameet made a victorious return to the fray by winning a one-mile listed race at Leopardstown in early June by gamely getting the better of Jim Bolger’s smart filly Akua’Ba by a half-length. The increase in trip to nine furlongs shouldn’t inconvenience Mustameet and he’s likely to show a clean pair of heels to Regime. Prendergast incidentally won this same race 12 months ago with Decado.
Myboycharlie will surely take all the beating in the Group 3 Keeneland Minstrel Stakes.
The three-year-old, without doubt one of our best juveniles last season, never travelled with his customary fluency when finishing fifth to British challenger Tax Free in the Group 3 William Fry Sapphire Stakes over five furlongs here on Irish Derby day. It’s safe to say that Myboycharlie will benefit from being upped back up in trip to seven furlongs and Tommy Stack’s representative looks set to dispose of Confuchias.
Eddie Harty’s Raise A Row is marginally preferred to Flashy Beau in the Charlie Keatley Memorial Handicap and Veidhleadoir can atone for a slightly below-par ninth placed effort at Navan last time by denying Dianella in the Peter Keatley Curragh Groundcare Handicap.