Aidan O’Brien has a strong hand as he attempts to make it seven British and Irish Classics from eight in the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh on Sunday. The Ballydoyle handler is responsible for over half of the entries for the 12 furlong Group One contest.
O’Brien’s battalion is headed by Epsom Oaks winner Was. The daughter of Galileo will attempt to become the 13th filly to do the English and Irish Oaks double.
Twirl, Betterbetterbetter and Demurely all finished well behind their stable companion at Epsom and will have to improve considerably to figure here. He could also be represented by maiden Wonderful and Limerick winner Demurely.
Was could renew rivalry with Epsom runner up Shirocco Star. Hughie Morrison’s filly was a close second to the O’Brien filly at the start of June. She was since beaten a long way into second place by Princess Highway in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Great Heavens, winner of the Lancashire Oaks and a full sister to Eclipse winner Nathaniel, has been supplemented for the race by her trainer John Gosden. She is the only other English trained runner entered.
The main home grown threat to Was will come from the Dermot Weld trained Princess Highway. The Moyglare owned filly was an imperious winner of that race at Royal Ascot, won by her dam Irresistible Jewel. Her victory on Sunday would be a poignant tribute to the founder of Moyglare Stud Farm, Walter Haefner who passed away last month.
The line up is completed by Jim Bolger’s Livia Galilei and the Eddie Lynam trained Colliding Worlds.
There was some slight rain at the Curragh last night and the going for the two day meeting, which gets underway on Saturday is currently soft to heavy.