Heavens adds extra sparkle to Oaks entries
Buoyed by Izzi Top's facile recent triumph in the Curragh's Pretty Polly Stakes, the all-conquering John Gosden yesterday sanctioned his Lancashire Oaks heroine Great Heavens to be supplemented for Sunday's Darley Irish Oaks at a cost of €40,000.
The only trainer that looks capable of denying Aidan O'Brien in this year's British Flat trainers' championship, Gosden also confirmed that his Eclipse victor Nathaniel would endeavour to contribute a little more to that particular cause in Saturday's King George VI Stakes at Ascot.
From an Irish point of view, however, Great Heavens' potential participation in the Curragh classic will do plenty to help save the race from a similar fate to that which befell the Irish Derby, when there wasn't a single foreign challenger on duty in a renewal that, notwithstanding the exceptional winner Camelot, lacked meaningful competition.
A full-sister to Nathaniel, Great Heavens was one of two supplemented for Sunday's feature, with Eddie Lynam's Thistle Bloodstock-owned Colliding Worlds, impressive when taking a Leopardstown maiden only last week, also added at a 10pc cost of the €400,000 prize fund.
In all, there are 11 entries at the five-day stage, six of which are trained by O'Brien.
The Ballydoyle maestro's Was, successful in the Epsom equivalent, is 9/4 to follow up with bookmaker Paddy Power, as the Dermot Weld-trained Princess Highway, a runaway winner of the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, shades the market lead at 2/1.
Shirocco Star (6/1), second at Epsom before managing just third in the Ribblesdale, is also likely to re-oppose.
Speaking yesterday after two millimetres of overnight rain left ground conditions at headquarters unchanged at soft to heavy, Shirocco Star's trainer Hughie Morrison confirmed his intention to travel.
"We've left her in the Irish Oaks and, at the moment, we're heading over," he said of the filly that sports the same Helena Springfield Ltd colours as Izzi Top.
"We're keen to go as this is the last chance she'll get to take on three-year-olds. She might be third or fourth in the betting and we've plenty of ground to make up on Dermot Weld's filly, but racing is about competition.
"If people like us didn't have a go, you end up with races like the Irish Derby and nobody really wants to see that again."
Dunshaughlin-based Lynam spoke in similar terms of the decision to supplement the twice-raced Colliding Worlds.
"It's a huge ask for her," he admitted, "but she's proven on soft ground and her owner Jimmy Long (of Thistle Bloodstock) is a great supporter of Irish racing. He's very keen she has a go and we've nothing to lose."
Lynam also reported that progressive Belgrave Stakes winner Slade Power could next tackle the Group One Betfred Stakes at Haydock on September 8.
"He took the race brilliantly and handled the ground better than I thought he would," he said of the Fairyhouse triumph.
"He's obviously got a bit of class about him. He's going to have a little break now and then be prepared for the Betfred."
Tipperary, meanwhile, hosts its big summer jumping card this Sunday, when a number of Galway hopefuls will conclude their preparations for the Ballybrit festival which gets underway on July 30.
Captain Cee Bee and The Real Article, first and second in last year's infamous edition of the Kevin McManus Bookmaker Grimes Hurdle, are again among the entries for Sunday's Grade Three, as is the 2009 Galway Hurdle hero Bahrain Storm.