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: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 18th July 2020
- Winner: Even So
- SP: 10/1
- Trainer: Ger Lyons
- Jockey: Colin Keane
A trip of 1m4f faces the runners in this Group 1 event which offers total prize money of €250,000 this year. The going at the track is currently described as good.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Good||1m4f||Group 1||€250,000||8 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Irish Oaks Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Two fillies have registered an English and Irish Oaks double in the past decade. That record won’t be improved upon this year, though, as Epsom winner Love gives the race a miss, but we do still have the second and fifth place finishers from the English version of the race set to go to post in what looks a strong eight-runner field.
Surprisingly for an Irish Classic race, the all-time trainers table for this event is headed by someone other than Aidan O’Brien. Sitting at the top of the pile on six wins is Englishman Sir Michael Stoute. O’Brien isn’t too far behind though – lying in second spot on five wins – and with four of this year’s eight-runner field hailing from his Ballydoyle operation, he has solid claims of drawing level.
This hasn’t been a particularly happy hunting ground for supporters of the market leader in recent times, with only two of the past 10 favourites coming home in front, handing jolly backers a level stakes loss of £6.35.
|Cayenne Pepper||2/1||111||Jessica Harrington||Shane Foley|
|Ennistymon||5/2||107||Aidan O'Brien||Wayne Lordan|
|Snow||6/1||106||Aidan O'Brien||Michael Hussey|
Cayenne Pepper –2/1
Jessica Harrington has tasted huge success throughout her training career, both on the flat and over jumps, but she is yet to claim this prize. Hopes will be high that this could be her year though, as it is she who is responsible for the current favourite for the race: Cayenne Pepper.
This daughter of Australia enjoyed an excellent first season at the track – coming home in front in three of her four starts at two. The pick of those wins came in a Group 3 over a mile at this venue, but she looked to run just as well when finishing a rock solid fourth in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket, when coming home only just over a length adrift of Love.
Outpaced at a crucial stage, before staying on again late that day, she looked in need of a step up in trip, and was duly given that on her first start of the current campaign in the 1m2f Pretty Polly Stakes here. No match for the excellent Magical that day, she nevertheless hit the line strongly in second in what looked to be an excellent prep for this race.
Ennistymon – 5/2
Another runner who arrives on the back of a solid runners-up finish last time out is the Epsom Oaks second, Ennistymon, who – at least according to the betting market – would look to be the pick of the Aidan O’Brien quartet.
Raced just the once last season, when an unlucky in running eye-catcher at this track in June 2019, we then had to wait just under a year for her second racecourse appearance at Leopardstown. She did break her duck in that 1m2f event, but only just, and headed into her next start in the Ribblesdale Stakes as one of the outsiders. As such, she ran a cracker to finish second to Frankly Darling, and duly built on that when beating all bar an inspired Love at Epsom last time out. A repeat of either of those recent efforts will likely see her on the premises here, and there may yet be more to come.
Snow – 6/1
In addition to Ennistymon, Aidan O’Brien has three further Galileo-sired fillies in this race. Considering the formidable record of that trainer/stallion combination, it would be unwise to rule any of them out, but one who does look particularly likely to go well is Snow.
As a full sister to St Leger winner Kew Gardens, this one boasts plenty of potential on paper and, following a distinctly underwhelming juvenile campaign, is now beginning to really deliver at the track. Breaking her duck at the first time of asking this season when scoring over 1m2f here, she then came up just short when second in a Group 3 – again over 1m2f – at Leopardstown. Stepped up to this trip last time out in the Munster Oaks at Cork, she really toughed it out well in the closing stages to register a first Group success. Stepping up to the top level clearly demands more again, but she is in the right hands, looks to stay well, and is not without a chance.
Irish Oaks Winners
|2020||Even So||10/1||Ger Lyons||Colin Keane|
|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|
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 (2019) in total prize money, reduced to €250,000 in 2020.
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 2019, as shown in the table below.
DUAL EPSOM & IRISH OAKS WINNERS
|Year||Winner||Trainer||Epsom Oaks Jockey||Irish Oaks Jockey|
|2017||Enable||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2010||Snow Fairy||Ed Dunlop||Ryan Moore|
|2009||Sariska||Michael Bell||Jamie Spencer|
|2006||Alexandrova||Aidan O’Brien||Kieren Fallon|
|2004||Ouija Board||Ed Dunlop||Kieren Fallon|
|1999||Ramruma||Henry Cecil||Kieren Fallon|
|1992||User Friendly||Clive Brittain||George Duffield|
|1988||Diminuendo||Henry Cecil||Steve Cauthen|
|1987||Unite||Sir Michael Stoute||Walter Swinburn|
|1981||Blue Wind||Dermot Weld||Lester Piggott||Wally Swinburn|
|1978||Fair Salinia||Sir Michael Stoute||Greville Starkey|
|1975||Juliette Marny||Jeremy Tree||Lester Piggott|
|1971||Altesse Royale||Noel Murless||Geoff Lewis|
|1948||Masaka||Frank Butters||Billy Nevett||Aubrey Brabazon|
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 2004 and 2017.
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, Ed Dunlop and John Gosden 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.