Brendan Duke: I’m betting this 11/1 filly has a live chance in the Irish Oaks

Talented, progressive and will love the rain! No it's not Brendan Duke but Antonia De Vega in the Irish Oaks (5.10pm).

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Greetings from Killarney. Weak sales resistance often lands me in trouble. It’s a double-edged sword of course. Was delighted to be talked into a trip to one of Ireland’s jewels. You will be well aware of how picturesque the track is. It’s complimented by the sights and smells of Summer. The brass duets, and waft of fresh cut grass being personal highlights. A grand spot altogether. The quest to cover my expenses is in some jeopardy. We go again today. Worst case scenario, I’ll just have to claw it back at the Curragh this weekend. ‘The ground is a bit of a guess up. It will probably be on the easy side of good. It’s currently quick, with 14mm due before racing.

The Irish Oaks (5.10 pm) is the highlight of a good card on Saturday. The second, third, and fourth from the Epsom Oaks in Pink Dogwood, Fleeting and Manuela De Vega re-oppose. All three were arguably unlucky behind Anapurna. That probably wasn’t a strong renewal. The temptation is to look elsewhere. Pink Dogwood heads the betting. She was a well beaten third in the Pretty Polly Stakes last time out. The Dogwood got quite edgy before that race. It’s possible she under-performed.

It will be interesting to see how she handles the preliminaries. Iridessa came out on top that day. She was most impressive. It was her first run beyond a mile. As befits a daughter of Ruler Of The World, the extra two furlongs in this promises to unlock more improvement. She’s greatly feared. The race should be run at a decent clip. Peach Tree looks the obvious pace. Should Ballydoyle try something unorthodox, Ribblesdale heroine Star Catcher could gain a tactical advantage.

However, Antonia De Vega gets the nod.


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It’s a little surprising that Harry Bentley abandons her. The vibes weren’t great before her Newbury comeback. It’s possible she doesn’t show much at home. She bolted up that day. The second Star Terms has since given the form a solid look by winning at Longchamp. Bar the Fillies Mile last season, where she finished lame, this has looked a talented progressive filly. She should relish the trip and the more rain that falls the better. She probably has about 10lbs to find but given her profile that’s entirely possible. Paddy’s 11/1 on Friday looks a decent price to find out whether she can.

The Scurry Handicap (3.25 pm) looks typically competitive. Ice Cold In Alex should enjoy the set up here. He’s a horse who has to be ridden for luck. He can be frustrating to follow. He again looked unlucky when flying home over 7f at the course recently. He should get plenty of cover, and a strong pace to aim at. His draw, on the stands side, appeals too. This is a higher grade than he normally operates at. That’s always a concern. Still, with so much in his favour, and the likelihood of a double-figure price, I’d be willing to take a chance.

The MInstrel Stakes (4.35 pm) looks a hot race. Romanised, after his luckless fourth at Royal Ascot, will probably head the betting. Decent cases could also be made for Mr Lupton, and Safe Voyage. They should all help to make a reasonable price for Hey Gaman. This teak-tough performer may well enjoy a tactical advantage. He’s in fine form, and runs over his optimum trip. He will be the linchpin of my betting strategy on Saturday.

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Over in the UK, I won’t be able to resist having a few quid on Emten in the Super Sprint at Newbury (3.40 pm). This imposing filly caught my eye in the Royal Ascot parade ring. She ran well above market expectations in the Norfolk Stakes. A slow start, a feature of both her runs, left her with too much to do. Ventura Rebel, second that day heads the betting and will obviously take the world of beating but I expect Emten to get closer this time.

Hopefully she can break a bit better and the forecast 12 mm of rain will probably leave the ground on the easy side of good. That will suit the strong staying Emten. Most of the pace seems to be stand side. Her high draw might be of some advantage. At 8/1 she looks worth an each-way play and Paddy’s paying the 5 places.

The Curragh stages another quality card on Sunday. The races have a generally trappy feel to them. The Sapphire Stakes (3.20 pm) looks a right good heat. Soldier’s Call will head the betting.

He’s respected, but faces stiff competition for the early lead. The prospect of a burn up draws my eye to the hold-up performers. Equilateral is a frustrating sort. He’s also talented. His run behind Mabs Cross, albeit receiving weight, at Newmarket earlier this season brings him right into the reckoning. The prospect of sitting chilly behind an infernal pace should be right up his alley. The fact that he’s burned a high percentage of punters thus far in his career means we could get a juicy price. I will give him one last chance.

*Prices correct at time of posting

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What do you think?