It’s Irish Oaks weekend and like the Irish Derby, the big race appears substandard. Unfortunately, it’s a function of trying to cram all the big races into a shorter time frame.
Love has decided to go for the Yorkshire Oaks, while Fancy Blue is destined for the Nassau Stakes in Goodwood. She may well be joined there by Peaceful and Alpine Star.
Given a small blanket would have covered them in the French Oaks, that should be a race to savour. But, The Irish Oaks isn’t without intrigue either.
The first tip runs in the feature. Paddy are struggling to split Cayenne Pepper and Ennistymon at the head of the market.
Cayenne Pepper was a very smart two-year-old. Her comeback run at this track last month was encouraging. Granted she was laughed at by Magical, but that form is probably the best on offer.
Ennistymon ran a distant second behind Love in the Oaks, but she did manage to turn the Ribblesdale form around to be fair. She should be progressing, and it was slightly disconcerting to see her get so edgy before the Oaks in Epsom. Potential supporters might be well advised to keep an eye on her in the preliminaries on Saturday.
I can see the case for either filly, but neither appeal at the prices and LABURNUM rates as my selection.
Aidan O’Brien’s charge only made her debut a month ago and she improved markedly on that Gowran win when narrowly denied by Even So in Naas a couple of weeks ago. She looked all over the winner for most of the straight that day.
She just lugged in a couple of times in the final furlong which ultimately made the difference. That can be put down to inexperience. I will be surprised if Even So can confirm the form on Saturday. The extra two furlongs isn’t guaranteed to suit Laburnum on pedigree. Her run style strongly suggests it’s a positive though and I’m confident she will improve again here.
Whether she can improve the 10 pounds that will be necessary to win is uncertain. At a double figure price, I can live with some uncertainty.
THUNDERING NIGHTS appeals in the 10-furlong handicap and this filly got off the mark on the third and final start of her juvenile campaign. That Galway win reads like strong form as the third, fourth and sixth have all won since. Thundering Nights needed every yard of the extended mile that day.
The step up in trip here looks sure to suit and this will be her first start on ground that doesn’t have heavy in the description. That’s a slight concern though her dam was most effective on top of the ground.
She can take advantage of what looks a lenient mark on Saturday. It wouldn’t shock were she to prove capable of competing in stakes company before long.
Paddy sponsor the Scurry Handicap a little later and they also throw us an extra place bone. That’s very sporting of them.
They will struggle to get Gulliver out of the frame as he’s a generally consistent sort. He does find it tough to win, but running in competitive sprint handicaps isn’t the route to a high strike rate. He’s also inclined to miss the break and that’s not ideal either.
A slow start, and some interference in the run, probably cost him victory when third behind Buffer Zone at this course last year and that’s strong form. As is his fourth last time out in the Wokingham, but Gavin Ryan takes off 5lbs on Saturday and that can’t hurt.
Neither will the extra 63 yards of this race, so expect the Gull to be swooping late and fast. He looks the best bet on the card.
The Ladies Derby closes the card and jockeyship could be all important. I’m not familiar with the work of Miss J Walton, but she has had about 50 rides in the last five seasons – most have been in bumpers.
She appears to have landed a good ride here as GRACE TO GRACE is relatively unexposed. Her only run over 12 furlongs was a winning one and her seasonal comeback reeked of a tune up.
She was slowly away before coming with a steady run to be beaten by five lengths. That was a slightly better race than the one she contests on Saturday. Perhaps more significantly it was over 10 furlongs.
I expect a much-improved performance here and if Miss Walton can give Grace a good steer, the partnership can say goodnight to the opposition.
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