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Cabra Millie out to break favourite's curse in Oaks

THE favourite's millstone struck again in the quarter-finals of the Irish Oaks as the third new market leader in the space of eight days was sent tumbling out.

It will make supporters of Cabra Millie tread warily when she contests the opening semi-final of the bitch Classic at Shelbourne on Saturday.

Borna Gem followed previous long-odds fancies Airforce Diva and Smoke Pixie out of the Classic, but it will be a huge shock if the Graham Holland- trained Cabra Millie doesn't safely qualify for the final. Mind you, the Louise Scally-owned bitch figures in a tough opening heat where her five rivals all possess top credentials.

Tantallons Kay has the ideal draw in one, while Glenwood Pixie will again have the outside to herself, and in between them we have Ilikeyou, College Maybe and fast-starting Rockburst Delta.

John O'Flynn Jnr's Milldean Tally is the only unbeaten survivor and she was quite fortunate to win last Saturday when Rios Girl checked badly when enjoying a winning lead. The two will meet again in the second semi, which also includes the impressive Millbank Lola, Drumurrer Vixen, Tyrur Monica and Solo Star.

Saturday's Shelbourne card will also include the ECC Timber Open 550, and this is shaping into a fantastic competition, though it may have to be run as a 24 instead of 36 event.

Heading the entries are Sparta Maestro, Droopys Cain and Razldazl Will but the rising stars Tyrur Sugar Ray, Razldazls Apollo and Luke, Stay Thirsty, Confident Rankin, Camas, Mister Glenard and Slippery Patch are also among the entries. At least half these will figure in the top 20 of the Irish Derby betting.

Also on Saturday, the semi-finals of the Bettor.com Northern Irish Derby will be run at Drumbo Park, where John McGee's Ruthless Man is the clear favourite. However, the puppy Devilacare is maturing rapidly and he is shaping like a dog that will take beating in this competition. The 6/1 being offered about him looks extremely tempting.

There are three interesting puppy events in progress. Apart from the ECC at Shelbourne, the Red Mills Juvenile will start at Kilkenny on Friday as a 24-dog event, and the second round of the Kingdom Supporters' Unraced will be run at Tralee on Friday.

Among the Kilkenny entries are Skywalker Puma, Dear Pa, Dusseldorf and Allen Master.

Irish Independent