CHAMPION trainer Aidan O’Brien will bid to win his first Irish Classic of the 2018 season on Saturday as Royal Ascot winner Magic Wand heads his entries for the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks.
O’Brien has saddled the runner-up in each of the three Irish Classic’s at the Curragh so far this year but will be attempting to win the Darley Irish Oaks for a record equalling sixth time with a strong team likely to go forward from his powerful Ballydoyle stable.
“Magic Wand has come out of Ascot well and we’ve been pleased with her since then,” O’Brien said. “She is ready to go to the Curragh for the Irish Oaks and the plan is that Bye Bye Baby and Forever Together will also run there. We also have September in the race and she has been training well following a muscle problem. We’ll make a decision on whether or not she’ll run later in the week but she is being trained with the Irish Oaks in mind.”
The John Gosden-trained Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Enable was victorious in the Irish Oaks last year and the race has been won by overseas trainers seven times since Sariska was successful in 2009. This year’s British challenge is headed by Sea Of Class, a daughter of Sea The Stars, who has won two Listed races this season for trainer William Haggas.
Haggas said on Tuesday morning; “Sea Of Class is in good form, we are very happy with her and she pleased us at Newmarket last week. She’s ready to go and hopefully we can get her there in one piece. It will be a tough race but we are looking forward to it and we think that a mile and a half is the trip that she wants now and the Curragh should suit. She is out a Hernando mare and there is plenty of stamina in the family but she has got speed as well so we are excited. James Doyle has ridden her on all three starts and we are hoping that he’ll be over on Saturday.”
Curragh-based trainer Willie McCreery could be represented by Liquid Amber and Mary Tudor as he seeks a first Irish Classic winner and Dubai Duty Free Irish Dubai winning trainer Joseph O’Brien is set to saddle Tissiak in Saturday’s feature race.
Also on Saturday at the Curragh is the Group 2 Friarstown Stud Minstrel Stakes for which 15 have stood their ground including the Charlie Appleby-trained D’Bai and the Aidan O’Brien-trained St Patrick’s Day.
The weights for the €100,000 Tote Scurry Handicap are headed by course and distance winner Ice Age for Eve Johnson Houghton and the Ger Lyons-trained Ardhoomey, while a promising field of two-year-olds are set to go to post in the Group 3 Jebel Ali Racecourse Anglesey Lodge Stakes including the Ballydoyle trio of Fairyland, Fantasyand Sergei Prokofiev.
The Boodles Ladies Derby will also feature on Saturday’s action-packed eight race card with last year’s winning rider Lisa O’Neill likely to be in high demand.
Darley Irish Oaks Day is also one of the most stylish of the summer with the Boodles Most Stylish Lady in association with Powerscourt Resort & Spa and evoke.ie Judges leading lady rider and assistant trainer Kate Harrington and Sybil Mulcahy, editor of evoke.ie will select the overall winner who will win a spectacular prize courtesy of the sponsors.
There is also racing at the Curragh on Sunday with the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes and the Group 2 Kilboy Estate Stakes taking centre stage on another eight race card. A strong British challenge is expected for the Sapphire Stakes with Caspian Prince, Judicial and Muthmir among the list of 15 that stood their ground, while in the Kilboy Estate Stakes a total of 18 have gone forward at the latest entry stage this morning and among the potential runners are Jessica Harrington’s I’m So Fancy recent Listed winner Bella Estrella who could represent Dermot Weld.