Tuesday 24 October 2017

Wonder Of Wonders to get revenge

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

AIDAN O'BRIEN will seek to further his incredible dominance of the domestic Classics when he saddles three of the nine runners in the Darley Irish Oaks at The Curragh tomorrow.

The Ballydoyle maestro has already won both of this year's Irish Guineas as well as the Irish Derby, and he is chasing a 10th Group One winner of the current campaign.

Wonder Of Wonders, second to the re-opposing Dancing Rain in the Epsom Oaks last month, has been heavily supported in recent days to deliver him a fourth success in tomorrow's showpiece.

Should she -- or either of her stable mates Amazing Beauty and Gemstone -- prevail, O'Brien would equal his predecessor and namesake Vincent's record haul of 27 Irish Classics.

Despite the money that has seen Wonder Of Wonders, which will be ridden by Ryan Moore, shorten into odds-on favouritism, this is yet another classy renewal of the Oaks.

In contrast to the woes of the Kildare venue's Derby, Dancing Rain's presence means that, for a seventh time in nine years, the Epsom Oaks victor is in attendance.

Of the septet, four have come here and collected, and Dancing Rain will have proved herself a worthy addition to that contingent if she prevails in a race that also includes Godolphin's brilliant 1,000 Guineas winner Blue Bunting.

The remainder of the programme is no less intriguing, with two other informative Group races and an ever-challenging Rockingham Handicap the pick of the support card.

Furthermore, a Ladies' Derby that features more trainers' daughters than you can shake a stick at is notable for the debut of one Miss S O'Brien.

Known to her school friends simply as Sarah, the aspiring amateur is of the Rosegreen O'Briens. It could be a big day for that family.

2.40 Anglesey Stakes

This Group Three has gone the way of some high-class juveniles over the years, but it remains to be seen quite how much scope this year's class has.

Only one of the seven that have run more than once -- Mark Johnston's Fullbright -- has won twice.

Of that seven, the fillies After, Fire Lily, Ishvana and Lady Rochford are the most interesting, but a chance is taken on the once-raced Zip Top confirming the promise of his debut win at Leopardstown in June.

Tenth Star and David Livingston, both of which he defeated, have since proved themselves to be very smart.


3.10 Kilboy Estate Stakes

Of the two English challengers Fontley and Seta, the latter appeals as a slightly more potent proposition. Luca Cumani's filly quickened clear to collect on her seasonal bow at Goodwood, and may not have shown her true colours at Ascot next time.

With first-time blinkers, Wild Wind could put in an improved effort, but preference is for Claiomh Solais. Jim Bolger's filly hasn't been disgraced in Group Ones, and found only Emulous too strong when dropped in class at Fairyhouse in June.

Since then, Rose Bonheur, third that day, has come out and franked the form by winning a Listed race.

SELECTION: Claiomh Solais

3.45 Darley Irish Oaks

In what promises to be a cracking Group One, Wonder Of Wonders is fancied to turn the tables on her Epsom conqueror.

The beautifully bred filly didn't do much wrong when second to Dancing Rain on that occasion, but Johnny Murtagh dictated the race brilliantly from the front on the winner.

Murtagh won't enjoy an easy lead here, and there is a suspicion that a more thorough and even test will suit Wonder Of Wonders. That said, this is no two-horse race.

The 1,000 Guineas heroine Blue Bunting cannot be written off, as little went right for her when she eventually finished fourth at Epsom. Banimpire, such a game winner at Royal Ascot last time, is another to consider over a trip that suits her well.

SELECTION: Wonder Of Wonders

4.50 Brady's Mercedes Benz Rockingham Handicap

A typically open-looking Rockingham. Four English-trained horses will endeavour to send another valuable sprint for export, but the home defence is strong.

Ger Lyons' The Reaper is progressive, losing little in defeat when second in two good handicaps last month. At Navan recently, he had subsequent winners Six Of Hearts, Maarek and Murura behind, while the winner Patrickswell also obliged again.

Celerina and Collingwood are two other consistent sorts, but they may all have to go to catch Cheviot.

Successful on his reappearance at Naas, Reggie Roberts's gelding ran a solid race when second to Six Of Hearts here last time.


•See next page for Tipperary preview.

Irish Independent

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