Sport Horse Racing

Thursday 22 February 2018

First for Seventh Heaven in Oaks

Seventh Heaven with Seamie Heffernan winning the Irish Oaks. Photo: Brian Lawless
Seventh Heaven with Seamie Heffernan winning the Irish Oaks. Photo: Brian Lawless

Frances Moore

Aidan O'Brien is likely to target the Yorkshire Oaks with Seventh Heaven after she 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 gave 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 under Ryan Moore.

Seventh Heaven (14-1) had only finished sixth in the Investec Oaks and 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 horse, 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 re-plated at the start, was eased right down by Andrea Atzeni soon after entering the straight.

Seventh Heaven was slashed to 5-1 joint-favourite from 33-1 for the Yorkshire Oaks (York, August 18) with Paddy Power. RaceBets went 9-1 from the same price.

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

"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. She was always a high-quality filly and Seamus gave her a lovely ride.

"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."

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