CURRAGH Sat: Saturday’s card at the Curragh will be the focal point of British and Irish racing this weekend, with the eight-race card featuring the Group 1 Irish Oaks and two Group 2 contests; the Sapphire Stakes and the Curragh Cup.
⭕ Kicking off the day’s action is a two-year-old colts’ and geldings’ maiden over seven furlongs (1.30pm). With only five of the 11 runners having visited a racecourse before, this looks to be a fairly open contest and could throw up any result. Joseph O’Brien’s Mythology has both the most and the best quality races on his CV, having finished fifth in a six-furlong Group 2 race already this month. He steps down in class and up in trip for this, so is likely to find this easier. A low draw on this course will not be helpful but he ought to be able to put his experience to good use here. Aidan O’Brien’s debutant Henry Longfellow’s pedigree suggests capability on soft ground, and he could be one to keep in mind for the placings.
⭕ The Group 3 Anglesey Stakes follows over six and a half furlongs (2.00pm). A competitive field of eight two-year-olds line up for this, of which Donnacha O’Brien’s Do It With Style is the best qualified to handle soft going and, having already won over six-furlongs at the Curragh, could have a chance of placing here. A son of soft-ground performer Inns Of Court, Diego Dias’ Gaenari could have the best winning claims, having finished a close second in both his previous starts on better ground. Softer conditions could be what he needs to get his head in front.
⭕ Third is the six-and-a-half-furlong Scurry Handicap (2.35pm), which has a good-sized field of 21 runners. Aussie Girl, a course winner last time out over seven furlongs, has good previous form on soft ground and is once again partnered by five-pound claiming jockey, Jamie Powell. Against classier rivals this time, she will find this harder, but could be in line for a place. Gordon Elliott’s Coachello, who tops the ratings and is also ridden by a claiming rider, has won six times over comparable trips, copes well with the conditions and should be in contention for the win.
⭕ The Sapphire Stakes is next over five furlongs (3.10pm). Tim Easterby’s Art Power travels over from the UK for this, having won the Group 2 Greenlands Stakes here back in May. He steps back down in trip from six furlongs for the first time since December, but his three-from-three record at the Curragh and his good form this season suggests that he could win here once again. Seeking a hat-trick is Adrian McGuinness’ Go Athletico, who should have a chance at the placings having won two Listed contests this season.
⭕ The feature, the greatly anticipated Irish Oaks, is our fifth race over 1m4f. Conditions should play to the strengths of Aidan O’Brien’s Savethelastdance, who won the Cheshire Oaks on soft ground by a remarkable 22 lengths. She outclasses her rivals and, with a good second in the Oaks at Epsom last month followed by plenty of time to recover, should take all the beating. Jospeh O’Brien’s Lumiere Rock, a course winner, could follow her home.
⭕ The second of our Group 2 contests, the Curragh Cup over 1m6f, is next (4.20pm). Of the 11 runners, Amusement looks to be in with a good chance. 12 pounds lower in the handicap than the favourite, this daughter of Galileo has pleasing form in testing conditions, having won over 1m4f on soft-to-heavy in May, and did not disgrace herself when finishing fourth by under two lengths over this trip last time out in a Group 3. She should have a decent each-way chance, but is unlikely to get past Emily Dickinson, a course and distance winner who has been improving throughout the season and is now due her next win in her preferred conditions from an advantageous draw in stall three.
⭕ The penultimate race of the day, a six-furlong nursery handicap, has a field of 10 (4.55pm). Jim Bolger’s Neo Smart makes her handicap debut after a disappointing effort in a Group 3 Sprint at Naas last time, but looks to be better off on softer going. She ought to be able to go better off a mark of 76 in this company and could run for a place. Oligopoly, ridden by a seven-pound claimer, has better winning claims having not been out of the placings in both his previous starts. He wears a tongue strap for the first time and could be the one to beat from stall seven.
⭕ Finally, we have a fillies’ and mares’ maiden over seven furlongs (5.30pm). Machnamh, who finished a close second over a mile last time out in similar conditions, should be able to improve for a win here having begun to hit a good patch of form. Edward Lynam’s debutant Swan Band also looks to have a suitable pedigree to go well here and could be a candidate for the placings.