Marvellous can bounce back and extend Weld's Oaks drought
Dermot Weld was still in his early 30s when he first won the Irish Oaks with Blue Wind (1981), and although he has won it since with Dance Design (1996), he has been out of luck in more recent times, with his latest 11 runners all unplaced.
Some of those were big-priced outsiders, but others, such as Princess Highway (priced 9/4 in 2012), should have fared a lot better, based on the collective view of the betting market.
This evening at the Curragh (5.45), Weld has a great opportunity to end his hoodoo with Tarfasha, which was propelled to the top of the betting on Thursday when connections of Epsom Oaks winner Taghrooda said they'd be sending her to Ascot for next week's King George VI instead.
While it would have been nice to see Taghrooda race on these shores, the withdrawal of the odds-on ante-post favourite does open up the betting and presents some new opportunities for punters.
A runner-up to Taghrooda at Epsom, Tarfasha has done little wrong and I'm finding it hard to pick any holes although at 9/4, the bookmakers are not taking many chances and she's just a little too short for my liking.
Aidan O'Brien's daughter Ana will make history as the first female jockey to ride in the Irish Oaks on Beyond Brilliance, but at the prices stablemate Marvellous could be the one to back, with Ryan Moore booked to do the steering.
Moore rode her to victory at 10/1 in the Irish 1000 Guineas, where she put on a great display of stamina to beat the 100/30 favourite Lightening Thunder.
A step up in trip for the Epsom Oaks was expected to suit, but she didn't seem to handle the course that well and appeared a little distracted. In the end, her sixth place was disappointing, but she's a better horse than that Epsom race suggests and I'm almost certain we'll see a different filly today in a fair test at the Curragh.
The addition of blinkers should help her concentration, and provided the ground doesn't turn up too fast, she looks a solid enough bet at 4/1.
Jockey bookings suggest Tapestry (Joseph O'Brien) is the Ballydoyle No 1, but if you ask me, Bracelet (5/1) could be the biggest threat to the selection under Colm O'Donoghue.
She was well beaten in the Guineas at Newmarket but bounced back to form when stepping up to a mile and a half to win the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Luca Cumani's Volume is also noted at 9/2. Across the water at Newbury, Charlie Appleby's Ahtoug has claims in the Group Three Al Basti Equiworld Hackwood Stakes (3.15) at the eye-catching price of 15/2.
Fifth in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot just a couple of lengths behind Sole Power, I'm going to forgive his poor run last time in the Coral Charge Sprint in which he never settled down and appeared to carry his head awkwardly.
He's worth another chance at this level, although the likes of Music Master and Rocky Ground will be no pushovers and a closely fought affair is expected.
THE William Haggas-trained Fury was once rated as high as 107, but the assessor has eased off in the past year and his current mark of 92 gives him a chance of getting back into the winner's enclosure one of these days.
He shaped better than the bare result when fourth in the Investec Mile at Epsom off that rating last month and with a bit more luck in-running, he would have finished closer.
The 32RedSport.com Handicap (1.50 Newmarket) looks open and I'd be surprised if he's not thereabouts today, priced in the region of 10/1.
1.50 Newmarket: Fury (e/w)
2.25 Newmarket: Astonishing
2.40 Newbury: Al Kazeem
3.15 Newbury: Ahtoug
5.45 Curragh: Marvellous
Do the double
Racing: With a number of Group One races to his credit, Al Kazeem was retired after the 2013 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, but he's reported to have been sub-fertile at stud and returns to racing today for the Doom Bar Stakes at Newbury (2.40).
While there's the distinct possibility that the six-year-old will not be as sharp on his return, a price of 5/2 to land a Listed race seems decent enough considering his achievements last summer.
Gaelic games: Reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin would have won the Leinster title for the last nine years running had Meath not thrown a spanner in the works in 2010.
The pair of old rivals meet again tomorrow afternoon and while the odds would suggest the Dubs will win handy enough, their 5-9 to 0-13 loss four years ago is a stark reminder that anything can happen.
It should be a lively encounter and at 7/4, Bernard Brogan is tipped to score a goal at any time (Boylesports).
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