Monday 19 March 2018

No shortage of opposition for Oaks favourite Even Song

O’Brien: “The plan is that Even Song will go for the Irish Oaks and we’ll probably run a couple more also.” Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
O’Brien: “The plan is that Even Song will go for the Irish Oaks and we’ll probably run a couple more also.” Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Even Song is long odds-on to plunder a fifth Darley Irish Oaks for Aidan O'Brien, but two supplementary entries add to the sense that Saturday's Classic may not be quite a formality.

The impressive Ribblesdale heroine is a best-priced 8/13 to secure a first Group One success in the €400,000 Curragh feature. If Even Song continues to progress over the 12-furlong trip that served her so well at Royal Ascot, then she will be hard to beat.

However, Roger Varian has deemed it worth coughing up a €40,000 supplementary fee for his Ribblesdale runner-up Ajman Princess.

Hugo Palmer, who enjoyed a breakthrough Group One triumph in last year's Irish Oaks after supplementing Covert Love, has also sanctioned the late entry of Architecture, which disappointed in the Ribblesdale, having chased Minding home in the Oaks.

With Mick Channon also due to send over Epsom third Harlequeen, Saturday's twilight feature, the final Classic of the domestic campaign, could prove a more interesting race than the layers suggest.

The two supplementary entries can be backed at up to 6/1 for the Irish Oaks, with the remaining 16 contenders available at odds of 14/1 or bigger.

"The plan is that Even Song will go for the Irish Oaks and we'll probably run a couple more also," confirmed O'Brien, who indicated that his Epsom fourth and sixth, Somehow and Seventh Heaven, and Munster Oaks victor Pretty Perfect might also be among his eight entries to line up.

"Even Song had a little break and we've been very happy with her. She seems to handle most types of ground."

The ground is officially being given as good at headquarters. Of Ajman Princess, Varian said: "I feel she is a filly who is progressing at a rate of knots, and she will not look out of place in Group One company based on her Royal Ascot form. I think the galloping nature of the Curragh will suit and she is versatile in terms of ground.

"We have a length-and-a-half to find with Even Song, and she sets a high standard, but our filly is getting better and I hope she can be very competitive."

As well as Architecture, Palmer also has the Ribblesdale sixth We Are Ninety engaged. "The plan is to run both in the Irish Oaks," he reported.

"It didn't work out well for either in the Ribblesdale; they were both too far back and too wide in a messy, slowly-run race. If things go our way, I hope they both stand a good chance."

Among the potential outsiders is Way To My Heart, which would be a first Classic runner for O'Brien's son, Joseph. In 2012, the 23-year-old enjoyed a Grand Prix de Paris success for his father aboard Imperial Monarch.

Tomorrow, Beacon Rock (Ryan Moore) and Shogun (Seamie Heffernan) will strive to secure the Ballydoyle genius a third win in the Group One at its temporary home in Saint-Cloud after appearing in a final field of nine.

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