Wachman star leads strong Irish assault on Epsom Oaks
David Wachman's 1,000 Guineas heroine Legatissimo will spearhead a potent quintet of Irish raiders in tomorrow's Investec Oaks at Epsom.
Ryan Moore, who has won three of the first four Classics run on either side of the Irish Sea this year, will be reunited with the classy Danehill Dancer filly, with Richard Hughes standing in for him on Crystal Zvezda.
Michael Stoute's daughter of Dubawi has been vying for favouritism with Legatissimo at odds of around 7/2.
No Irish trainer other than Aidan O'Brien has won the Oaks since Jim Bolger's Christy Roche-ridden Jet Ski Lady stormed home at 50/1 in 1991.
However, Moore eschewed the four-time winner's trio of Diamondsandrubies, Qualify and Together Forever to maintain his partnership with their fellow Coolmore-owned Legatissimo, which will be striving to become the first horse since Kazzia in 2002 to complete the 1,000 Guineas-Oaks double.
Completing the cross-channel delegation is Jack Naylor, an intriguing runner trained by Jessica Harrington, who has traditionally been more closely associated with jumps venues such as Cheltenham or Punchestown.
A high-class juvenile that beat Legatissimo and Together Forever at the Curragh last year when conceding five pounds, Jack Naylor made an encouraging reappearance in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, catching the eye in fourth.
As such, she is considered a live prospect now that she steps up to a mile-and-a-half, and a breakthrough Classic success for Harrington and rider Fran Berry on the grandest of stages really would be quite the story.
Jack Naylor has been well-backed and is a top-priced 7/1 third favourite.
O'Brien's Tapestry, conqueror of the mighty Taghrooda under Moore in last year's Yorkshire Oaks, has been ruled out of making her return in Saturday's Coronation Cup after a setback, but Zawraq's prospects of lining up in the Derby appear to be quite decent.
Dermot Weld's unbeaten colt suffered an injury scare when returning lame from a piece of work on Tuesday, but Angus Gold, racing manager for the horse's owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, has issued an upbeat bulletin.
"In his words," Gold said yesterday after speaking with the Curragh handler, "the horse is 80pc better than he was this time yesterday. They've taken him out and he's walking sound. Leigh Roche, who has done most of the work on him, trotted him and he thought he felt 100pc. The vet said he could see he was still feeling it a little bit, but there has certainly been substantial improvement.
"He will be X-rayed again and rescanned. As long as they are clear and as long as he's sound, he'll have a good canter tomorrow morning with Pat Smullen aboard and how he comes out of that will obviously be crucial. Being positive, if he canters and everything is fine, I would imagine he'll be declared."
Hurricane Fly remains among four Willie Mullins entries in Sunday's French Champion Hurdle. A total of 19 are left in the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil, with Mullins' dual hero Thousand Stars still engaged alongside Val De Ferbet and Blood Cotil.
Also set to tackle the extended three-miler is Rameur, trained by Louisa Carberry, the English-born wife of Philip Carberry of the renowned Co Meath clan. The Champion Hurdle-winning jockey, who assists his wife at their west France base, will ride their first Grade One runner.
Meanwhile, Carberry's fellow Meath native Jason Maguire has reiterated his intention to ride again. He hasn't ridden since February, having undergone surgery on his back in April.
"Without a shadow of a doubt I want to ride again, but at the moment I would not have a clue when I will get back on a horse," Maguire said. "I will have to wait to see what the surgeon says."