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Murtagh hopes for French flair

JOHNNY MURTAGH will ride French challenger Chicquita in the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh on Saturday.

Murtagh is the most successful jockey in Irish Oaks history with five victories, the last of which being aboard Moonstone in 2008.

The rider's agent Eddie Byrne said: "Johnny will ride the French horse on Saturday.

"Her last run looks very good."

Chicquita has only raced three times and was last seen finishing second to Treve in the Prix de Diane (the French Oaks) at Chantilly towards the end of June.

Her trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre won the Curragh Classic with Shawanda in 2005.

Riposte and Venus De Milo have been supplemented for the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh on Saturday evening.

 

Contest

Trained respectively by Lady Cecil and Aidan O'Brien, connections of the two fillies have stumped up the €40,000 required to allow them to contest the Irish Classic.

The Khalid Abdullah-owned Riposte was a striking winner of the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot on her last start, while the unbeaten Venus De Milo claimed an Oaks trial at Naas towards the end of June.

Thirteen fillies have stood firm at the final entry stage, with Ralph Beckett having confirmed Investec Oaks one-two Talent and Secret Gesture.

Talent sprang a major surprise when slamming her better-fancied stable companion in Epsom's mile-and-a-half Classic at the end of May.

An attempt to complete the English-Irish Oaks double has been on her agenda ever since. Beckett said Secret Gesture was, however, not yet a definite runner, with races like the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and the German Oaks mooted as alternatives.

He said: "Both fillies have been left in the race. Talent will definitely run, but we won't make a decision on whether Secret Gesture will run until declaration time."

Richard Hughes partnered Talent to Oaks glory, but will be replaced by stable jockey Jim Crowley. Crowley rode Secret Gesture at Epsom, but if she does head to Ireland, she will be ridden by owners Qatar Racing's retained rider Jamie Spencer.

O'Brien could also be represented by Just Pretending, Magical Dream and Say.

 

Conspired

Circumstances have conspired against Alive Alive Oh since she trotted up by six lengths in a Listed contest at Navan in early May. Pulled out of the Ribblesdale because the ground was too quick, she was withdrawn from the Pretty Polly Stakes as she was found to be in season on the morning of the race.

While connections of the Tommy Stack-trained filly are keeping an eye on the weather and ground conditions, they hope it will be a case of third-time lucky.

"She's in good form. I've checked with the Curragh and they have started watering, so hopefully it will get into the ground," Stack's son and assistant Fozzy said.

Newmarket trainer Clive Brittain could give Masarah another shot at the big time, while David Simcock has left in Miss You Too.

Jim Bolger can call on Scintillula, with the once-raced Tarana still in the frame for John Oxx.


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