Venus to confirm O'Brien resurgence
After Declaration Of War brought Ballydoyle's mini Group One drought to an end on the Knavesmire yesterday, Venus De Milo is fancied to be the proverbial second bus in this afternoon's Darley Yorkshire Oaks.
Having recorded the Rosegreen stable's last top-level triumph with a devastating burst in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, Declaration Of War showed that he had the tenacity to match courtesy of a determined victory in the Juddmonte International. It was his fourth run in two months since Ascot, and Venus De Milo's constitution will need to be similarly robust if she is to step up in today's feature.
Aidan O'Brien's Duke Of Marmalade filly only made her career debut in June. Her sole defeat in that time came when a combination of lack of match practice and poor luck in running saw her fail by just half a length to reel in the wayward Chicquita in the Irish Oaks.
That was a cracking turn, and the manner in which Venus De Milo knuckled down to justify odds-on status at Cork subsequently suggested that the penny is now beginning to drop with her.
On that occasion, Joseph O'Brien had to really bustle up his mount to get going, but she showed the benefit of her previous three starts to sprint clear inside the distance in the manner of a real progressive filly.
All in all, it was a solid display that confirmed Venus De Milo's potential, so it is no surprise that her price has been contracting for this, given how well her other stablemate Foundry also showed up in defeat at York yesterday.
Interestingly, Peeping Fawn was O'Brien's second and last winner of this Group One in 2007, and she also obliged as a three-year-old that had never run as a juvenile.
Jim Bolger's Irish Oaks fourth Scintillula is among three others that represent the Classic generation, with Ralph Beckett's Epsom Oaks runner-up Secret Gesture also among the quartet. In all probability, though, The Fugue is the one to beat.
A poor win ratio means that John Gosden's classy filly is disappointing in one respect, but she is generally very consistent.
Her latest tame submission in the Eclipse was a long way removed from her true running, so the suspicion is that whatever beats her now – in a contest that ultimately amounts to a drop in class – will win.
As a horse whose graph is on an upward curve in comparison to the levelling out of The Fugue's, Venus De Milo is expected to be the one best equipped to do so.
Say represents O'Brien (below) and Ryan Moore in the Galtres Stakes, a really competitive Listed race over the same 12-furlong trip. Second to Saturday's runaway Beverley D Stakes heroine Dank at the Curragh last month, Say failed to match that when third to Along Came Casey at Gowran Park in the meantime.
She isn't one to put too much faith in, so preference is for Our Obsession under Frankie Dettori.
The Tom Queally-ridden Songbird is another to consider, but the three-year-old Our Obsession had the subsequent winner Nemushka back in third when drawing steadily clear for a second win in a row over 10 furlongs here in July.
William Haggas steps her up in trip now, and that might just suit ideally.
The irrepressible Moore is aboard the only other Irish-trained runner on day two of the Ebor meeting, David Wachman's Hot Bed in the Clipper Logistics Handicap. Robert Ogden's useful four-year-old has flattered to deceive at times, but he isn't beyond at least making the frame at fancy odds on just his fifth start of the season.