The Curragh brings us the fourth Irish Classic of the season with the Irish Oaks taking centre stage in July. The longstanding race dates back to 1895 and continues to be one of the top fillies-only contests in the country.
Fillies who competed in the Epsom Oaks have often made the journey across the Irish Sea to contest this race. Of the horses to complete the double there are arguably none better than John Gosden’s Enable. After winning the Cheshire Oaks, Epsom Oaks and Irish Oaks she went on to add the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks and Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe in her three year old season alone.
Next Race: Saturday, 18th July 2020
The next race is scheduled to run on 18th July 2020. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 20th July 2019
- Winner: Star Catcher
- SP: 7/2
- Trainer: John Gosden
- Jockey: Frankie Dettori
The continued warm and dry weather has kept the ground staff at the Curragh busy watering the track, with the going expected to be good to firm on the day.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Good To Firm||1m4f||Group 1||€400,000||13 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Irish Oaks Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2019. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Trends in this race point to two main things to watch out for, firstly a horse that has run within the last six weeks and secondly that they finished in the top two last time out.
We have the runner up and third from the Epsom Oaks in the line-up this year, but we fancy they may just find one too good once again.
Aidan O’Brien has always taken a keen interest in this race and during the last 13 years he’s saddled five Irish Oaks winners. That total puts him just one behind Sir Michael Stoute in the all-time list, and with three of the current 10 runners hailing from his Ballydoyle operation, he looks to have every chance of drawing level in 2019.
Three of the past four editions of this have headed to a runner hailing from a British yard. Ralph Beckett’s Antonia De Vega and Manuela De Vega, together with John Gosden’s Star Catcher look set to fly the flag for Britain this year, but as ever the home nation won’t go down without a fight.
If Aidan O’Brien is to be denied the prize this year, then the man most likely to keep it out from his grasp is his son Joseph O’Brien. One of the real new stars on the training scene, Joseph is responsible for the current favourite for the race in the shape of his Ruler Of The World filly, Iridessa. An impressive winner of the Fillies’ Mile last season, she came up short in both the English and Irish 1000 Guineas this year but bounced right back to her best when storming home by 2¼l in the Pretty Polly Stakes at this track last time out. The step up to 1m2f seemed to really suit that day, and the further distance here may bring out even more.
PINK TO SINK RIVALS?
Of the Aidan O’Brien trio, Peach Tree makes plenty of appeal on paper and arrives on the back of a career best win over 1m6f last time out, whilst Fleeting was a big eye catcher in the Epsom Oaks, and again ran a solid race when second in the Ribblesdale Stakes last time out. The one the market rates as the most likely to prevail though is the Epsom Oaks runner up, Pink Dogwood.
This daughter of Camelot arrived with a lofty reputation that day, and certainly travelled like a good thing before sweeping to the front and looking sure to prevail, only to be run down by Annapurna close home. That was still a smart effort, but having disappointed behind Iridessa in the Pretty Polly last time out, she does have something of a question to answer.
FRANKIE THE STAR OF THE SHOW
There’s no one who has lit up the racing headlines to quite the extent of the evergreen Frankie Dettori this season, and the Italian rider will likely have plenty of supporters to come up trumps on the big stage once again here. The filly to be aided with his services is the John Gosden-trained Star Catcher. Only making her debut at the tail end of 2018, she has made rapid strides in winning two of her three starts in the current season, including when most impressive in the Ribblesdale last time out at Ascot. It may take another step forward to land this – although possibly not much of one – but the fact that her two career wins to date have both come on soft ground would be a slight concern.
Final Verdict: Iridessa To Win
Star Catcher looks a filly firmly on the rise, but needs to prove she goes as well on quicker ground, whilst Pink Dogwood seems to possess bags of class and we may not have seen the best of her yet. The standout piece of form to our eyes though was that run from Iridessa in the Pretty Polly. With the longer trip here likely to be in her favour, she looks the one to be on.
Irish Oaks Winners
|2019||Star Catcher||7/2||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2018||Sea Of Class||11/4||William Haggas||James Doyle|
|2017||Enable||2/5||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2016||Seventh Heaven||14/1||Aidan O’Brien||Seamie Heffernan|
|2015||Covert Love||7/1||Hugo Palmer||Pat Smullen|
|2014||Bracelet||10/1||Aidan O’Brien||Colm O’Donoghue|
|2013||Chicquita||9/2||Alain De Royer-Dupre||Johnny Murtagh|
|2012||Great Heavens||5/4||John Gosden||William Buick|
|2011||Blue Bunting||5/2||Mahmood Al Zarooni||Frankie Dettori|
|2010||Snow Fairy||7/2||Ed Dunlop||Ryan Moore|
About the Irish Oaks
Much like in Britain, the Irish flat racing season is really centred around the five Classic contests, with our friends over on the Emerald Isle having their own equivalents of the 1000 and 2000 Guineas, Oaks, Derby and St Leger. All take place after their English counterpart, so we already have some idea as to the current pecking order by the time they roll around; and all are held at the Curragh, one of the fairest tracks in the game.
Topping the bill for the best of the middle-distance three year olds in training is of course the Irish Oaks. A Group 1 affair held over the 1m4f trip, the race was first run over 100 years after its English counterpart in 1895. Continuing to grow in prestige and prominence over the years, the race now offers €400,000 (2018) in total prize money.
FOURTEEN AT THE DOUBLE
With plenty of time between this race and the Epsom showpiece, it is certainly realistic for a filly to land both versions of the race, and this feat has indeed been achieved on fourteen separate occasions, as of 2018, as shown in the table below.
DUAL EPSOM & IRISH OAKS WINNERS
|2017||Enable||John Gosden||2010||Snow Fairy||Ed Dunlop|
|2009||Sariska||Michael Bell||2006||Alexandrova||Aidan O’Brien|
|2004||Ouija Board||Ed Dunlop||1999||Ramruma||Henry Cecil|
|1992||User Friendly||Clive Brittain||1988||Diminuendo||Henry Cecil|
|1987||Unite||Sir Michael Stoute||1981||Blue Wind||Dermot Weld|
|1978||Fair Salinia||Sir Michael Stoute||1975||Juliette Marny||Jeremy Tree|
|1971||Altesse Royale||Noel Murless||1948||Masaka||Frank Butters|
There are a couple of things which stand out when looking at our list of dual Oaks heroines. Firstly, the sheer quality of the runners to have doubled up: Ouija Board and Enable in particular rank firmly amongst the all-time greats; and secondly, that the prevalence of double Oaks winners certainly seems to be increasing over time. No horse won both at Epsom and the Curragh between 1895 and 1947, we then hand nine in the 52 years up to the turn of the century, but have had five between the years 2000 and 2018.
MURTAGH MAGIC AT THE CURRAGH
We have a real who’s who of the best jockeys from the past fifty years or so featuring on our list of the most successful jockey’s in this race. No man has done quite so well as Johnny Murtagh though.
There were few better riders of the Curragh track than Murtagh, with his prowess taking him to a clean sweep of the five Irish Classic’s over the course of his illustrious career. The winner of the English Derby on three occasions, and the Ascot Gold Cup five times, he bettered those tallies with a record-setting six wins in this contest.
STOUTE OUT IN FRONT
Having been fed on a steady diet of Aidan O’Brien seemingly plundering the majority of the English Classic contests in recent years, one might expect it to prove a pretty tall order for the British handlers to cross the Irish Sea and master O’Brien and his predecessors in their own back yard. However, a look through the history of this race shows that to do so is far from an impossible task.
The likes of Dick Hern, Sir Henry Cecil and Ed Dunlop have all tasted success in this race over the years, and it is in fact an English trainer who sits atop the all-time list, with Sir Michael Stoute leading the way on six wins. Aidan O’Brien is never far away from the top of the tree in these races though, and it would be something of a surprise were he not to claim top spot in the coming seasons given the vast arsenal he has at his disposal.