Kerrygold Irish Oaks
|Grade 1, Curragh 17:30
1m 4f, Class 1
|Saturday 20th July 2019|
Aidan O’Brien has saddled five previous winners of the fillies’ Classic – first striking gold with Alexandrova in 2006 before adding to his tally with Peeping Fawn (2007), Moonstone (2008), Bracelet (2014) and Seventh Heaven (2016).
His chief contender this year appears to be Pink Dogwood, who was only narrowly denied by the John Gosden-trained Anapurna in the Investec Oaks at Epsom last month, before finishing third behind Joseph O’Brien’s Iridessa in the Pretty Polly Stakes here four weeks later.
Pink Dogwood could be joined by Chablis, Credenza, Ribblesdale Stakes runner-up Fleeting, Goddess and Peach Tree.
O’Brien said: “We are very much looking forward to the Kerrygold Irish Oaks this weekend and have left six in the race at the moment
“We would be thinking that Fleeting, Pink Dogwood, Peach Tree and maybe something else will run.”
Iridessa looks a major contender for O’Brien junior – stepping up to a mile and a half for the first time.
The British challenge is headed by Royal Ascot heroine Star Catcher. As expected, the Ribblesdale Stakes winner has been supplemented – at a cost of 40,000 euros – and will bid to provide Gosden with a third Irish Oaks success following the previous triumphs of Great Heavens (2012) and the brilliant Enable (2017).
Ralph Beckett has impressive Newbury winner Antonia De Vega and Epsom Oaks fourth Manuela De Vega in the mix.
Epsom Oaks fourth Manuela De Vega is reported to be on course to take in the Irish equivalent on July 20 — and she may be joined by her stablemate, who was last tried at Group One level in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket last October.
After missing the early part of the campaign, Antonia De Vega made an impressive return to action on her first start over a mile and a quarter when running out a clear-cut winner of a Listed contest at Newbury last month.
Beckett said: “We are likely to still run both in the Irish Oaks, the reason being that it fits Manuela De Vega very well and Antonia De Vega needs juice in the ground. It is likely to be easier ground there, so she will go there if it rains.
“Manuela De Vega is not so ground dependant. They (owners) are very aware that it is not about what we want, it is about what the horses want — and that is where we are.
“Manuela is in good shape and is very straightforward. She did a nice bit of work last week before it dried up on the grass, so we are in a good place with her.”
If the ground turns out to be too quick in Ireland for Antonia De Vega, Beckett may switch her attention to the Preis der Diana at Dusseldorf on August 4.
He added: “If if it came up fast in Ireland, there is the Preis der Diana on the first weekend of August, and that would be another option for Antonia De Vega. We’ve got options for her, but I won’t run her on fast ground.
“The way she stretched out at Newbury, she wants a mile and a half, but it will be all about ground with her."
The potential field is completed by Jim Bolger’s Operatic Export, the Dermot Weld-trained Search For A Song and Trethias from the in-form yard of Jessica Harrington.
Darley Irish Oaks (Group 1)
€400,000 added, 3yo only, 1m 4f
13 remaining entries
1 118-1 Antonia De Vega 3 - Ralph Beckett
2 -05443 Chablis 3 - A P O'Brien
3 13-637 Credenza 3 - A P O'Brien
4 31-032 Fleeting 3 - A P O'Brien
5 916-34 Goddess 3 - A P O'Brien
6 1-3841 Iridessa 3 - Joseph Patrick O'Brien
7 11-24 Manuela De Vega 3 - Ralph Beckett
8 1-0857 Operatic Export 3 - J S Bolger
9 -40201 Peach Tree 3 - A P O'Brien
10 15-123 Pink Dogwood 3 - A P O'Brien
11 12 Search For A Song 3 - D K Weld
12 6-131 Star Catcher 3 - John Gosden
13 44-731 Trethias 3 - Mrs John Harrington 67