Sidarian Pearl can thwart Leah in Oaks decider
It has been an exciting path to the final of the Sporting Press Irish Oaks but as we approach the final at Shelbourne Park this evening the market is dominated by two flying females, Sidarian Pearl and Holycross Leah.
But, like all classic finals, it is always dangerous to rule out finalists too easily and most of tonight's contenders must be treated with the utmost respect.
The draw could well be the vital element and the Graham Holland trained Sidarian Pearl (9.42) appears to have fared best with a trap two draw.
This flying early pacer thus has the inside line on the similarly early paced Holycross Leah and that could well prove to be the difference between the pair of them.
Trained by Gerry Melia for his niece Mary, Holycross Leah has been a revelation in the Oaks and produced the faster time of the semis when beating Leamaneigh Mags comfortably in 28.21. A similar run would put her in with a major chance here.
Back on April 30 in the final of the Puppy Oaks, Sidarian Pearl led home Holycross Leah by six lengths and here they top the market.
Third favourite in the betting lists is the Liam Twomey-trained Witches Belle, which is a strong runner and has that terrific victory over Droopys Roddick and Clares Rocket in the Joe Dunne Memorial final in her portfolio.
That form looks exceptional after the happenings of the past few weeks.
The aforementioned Leamaneigh Mags represents Owen McKenna and is another capable of flying to the bend. The oldest finalist cannot be ruled out of the equation.
The field is then completed by Rachel Wheeler's High St Jesse and Liam Dowling's Ballymac Sarahjo and both will be doing their best work at the business end.
However, it is difficult to envisage the top prize not going to either Sidarian Pearl or Holycross Leah and the likelihood is that they can finish in that order..
There is a top-class supporting card and the race which stands out is the final of the Microdog ID Open 550 which would do justice to many a classic final. The choice here has to be the hugely impressive Michael O'Donovan-trained Laughil Duke (9.57), which powered to a 29.32 run last week in the heats and he may be too strong this time for the two Farloe runners trained by Owen McKenna.
Also on the card is the Consolation Oaks where the Francie Murray-trained Leezie Lindsay (9.27) will be strongly fancied to make amends for last week's slip-up.
One of the bankers of the night can be Holland's Ballinakil Clare (10.27), which was baulked on the bend last week but has the class to overcome a hot field in the night's finale and can lead home Skywalker Luke and Greenane Rocco.