Saturday 17 March 2018

Odds-on shot Even Song can enhance O'Brien tally

Ryan Moore will partner Even Song in the Irish Oaks tomorrow. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Ryan Moore will partner Even Song in the Irish Oaks tomorrow. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Raging hot favourite Even Song will spearhead a four-strong delegation charged with enhancing Aidan O'Brien's excellent Darley Irish Oaks record.

Since 2003, the Ballydoyle impresario is the only Irish handler to conquer the €400,000 Curragh Group One. He has done so on four occasions, and, yet, the fillies' 12-furlong contest is the domestic Classic in which he has enjoyed the least success.

When Kevin Prendergast masterminded Awtaad's Guineas victory in May, he became the first Irish trainer to take the spoils back to somewhere other than Ballydoyle for 30 years.

Now, 13 years have passed since the Irish Oaks went the way of Vintage Tipple for Paddy Mullins, as, sadly, has Mullins himself.

The betting suggests that the trend will continue. Even Song, a stylish winner of Royal Ascot's Ribblesdale Stakes, is no better than 8/11 for her Group One bow.

Last year's winning trainer Hugo Palmer has the next best on the list in the Oaks runner-up Architecture, which trades at 6/1, followed by fellow cross-channel raider, Ajman Princess.

Both have been supplemented for €40,000, and it is worth noting that Palmer also coughed up to put in Covert Love 12 months ago. He and Roger Varian, who sanctioned Ajman Princess's late entry despite her being held in by Even Song at Ascot, are no mugs.

Nor, indeed, is Mick Channon, whose Oaks third Harlequeen has not run since her Epsom outing. Channon excels with fillies.

Each of his last four Group One victories have come courtesy of a filly, and the female of the species has been responsible for nine of his career tally of 16.

Channon's sole Classic and most recent Group One was plundered at the Curragh when Samitar landed the 2012 1,000 Guineas under Martin Harley, and four of his last 15 runners at headquarters have won, including two of his three this year. His decision, then, to travel with Harlequeen is respected, and she could be one for each-way money at 14/1. The British contingent is completed by Palmer's We Are Ninety, while John Oxx and Jim Bolger have the only two best hopes of a non-O'Brien Irish win.

Their Red Stars and Turret Rocks possess different profiles, while O'Brien's son Joseph is tilting at windmills with his first Classic runner, Way To My Heart.

Still, Even Song appeals as the likeliest winner, albeit she trades at prohibitive odds. The daughter of Mastercraftsman is unexposed, and relished this trip at Ascot.

If she continues to progress, she is the one they all have to beat under Ryan Moore. Of the other Ballydoyle runners, the tidy Cork scorer Pretty Perfect could be underestimated a little.

Ana O'Brien, who will partner Way To My Heart, might be on the pick of the newcomers in a fascinating juveniles' maiden when she partners Lancaster Bomber, a War Front three-parts brother to Excelebration.


Apart from stablemate Taj Mahal, a full-brother to Gleneagles that disappointed here on its debut, Ger Lyons introduces yet another regally-bred sort in Lightening Fast. The first son of the mighty Frankel to race in Ireland, Lightening Fast is a son of Lyons's 2011 Cheveley Park heroine, Lightening Pearl.

Later, Lyons' Psychedelic Funk meets O'Brien's Peace Envoy in the Anglesey, with Bolger's Radio Silence also potentially smart.

However, Psychedelic Funk's fine third to Caravaggio in what was a classy edition of the Coventry Stakes stands out a little, so he is trusted to build on that now for Colin Keane.

Willie McCreery and Billy Lee can take the Scurry with Downforce, while Kevin Ryan's Brando is the one in the Sapphire.

Mecca's Angel returns after getting foiled in this Group Three last year, and Sole Power, Fort Del Oro, Ardhoomey, G Force and Gracious John are all capable.

However, Brando has bundles of speed and seems to be progressing just as rapidly.

Irish Independent

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