Thursday 22 March 2018

Aidan O'Brien in Seventh Heaven with Irish Oaks glory

Seventh Heaven claims the Irish Oaks
Seventh Heaven claims the Irish Oaks

Seventh Heaven put behind her a below-par display at Epsom to spring a surprise in the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh.

The daughter of Galileo was giving Aidan O'Brien his fifth success in the fillies' Classic, although she was not her trainer's main hope.

That was Ribblesdale Stakes winner Even Song, who was well beaten despite being sent off the 4-5 favourite.

Seventh Heaven (14-1) had only finished sixth in the Investec Oaks but returned to the form she showed to win the Lingfield Oaks Trial from Architecture, and she had that rival back in second place again.

Pretty Perfect, another O'Brien inmate, made the running until she was overhauled in the final quarter-mile and it was Seventh Heaven, in the hands of Seamie Heffernan, who pulled clear to win by two and three-quarter lengths.

The Hugo Palmer-trained Architecture, ridden by Frankie Dettori, was second, with Mick Channon's Harlequeen a length and a quarter away in third as that pair repeated their placings at Epsom behind the O'Brien-trained Minding.

Roger Varian's Ajman Princess, who was replated at the start, was eased right down by Andrea Atzeni soon after entering the straight.

Heffernan said: "We're blessed with fillies and they are taking their races well. She just didn't handle Epsom. She was a bit more relaxed today.

"If I was given the choice I'd have probably ridden Even Song. I wasn't and there wasn't much between the rest of them. With fillies some of them shine and some don't."

O'Brien said: "Seamus was riding her work. He had second pick and wanted to ride her. I was a bit surprised, but Seamus had faith in her and he had been riding her."

He joked: "We thought she didn't handle Lingfield and when she didn't handle that we thought she might handle Epsom. When we went back to Epsom she didn't handle that either!

"We thought she'd win very easy at Lingfield, but she just won. The filly that was second was second in the Oaks, though, and second again today.

"Obviously the flat track suited better. She loved the ground and the flat track. She was always a high-quality filly and Seamus gave her a lovely ride.

"They went a good gallop and on the different track we saw improvement. She's probably progressing. I was surprised when I saw her in the parade ring and had to take a second look at her to see the physical development.

"I suppose she could go to York (for the Yorkshire Oaks), she'll love the flat track. She's a lovely, big, flowing Galileo filly."

O'Brien was of the view Even Song might have been feeling the effects of her victory at Royal Ascot.

"I trained her hard for Ascot and didn't want to train her hard again. Maybe it left a mark," he said.

"Ryan (Moore) said she was very slowly away and never fired up and never got into it. She's a big mare and she'll be OK."

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