Darley Irish Oaks (Fillies’ Group 1) (Class 1) (3yo Only)
Advice: 1 pt each/way Bracelet (8/1 Boylesports)
Ballybacka Queen: Tough, hardy filly whose’ been a credit to her owners but been well exposed the last twice that she’s been tried in group company and not a certain stayer either.
Beyond Brilliance: Long shaped as if a step up to this trip would be of great benefit to her when winning 1m2f Navan handicap off 85 last month and coming creditable third to stable companion in a 1m Listed race at Killarney on Monday; This a totally different level though and hard to enthuse about; Another ride for young O’Brien protégé Ana and her first in a Group 1.
Bracelet: Hugely promising return when coming late to nail Balansiya on return at Leopardstown (7f, soft/heavy); Unable to repeat that in Guineas when stop/start pace didn’t help but always looked more of a staying type and proved herself when landing the Ribblesdale from fast finishing Lustrous at Royal Ascot (although a very worthy wnner); Just the 5 starts for her and only one at this trip and would be unwise to underestimate her here with guaranteed stamina also a positive here.
Lustrous: Rise in trip and class didn’t bother her a jot when building on surprise Listed win at York with fast finishing second in the Ribblesdale, better as the race went on but not threatening to win at any point; Could get closer today having been dropped in at Royal Ascot and interesting as she’s unexposed at the distance here even if more improvement maybe needed.
Maid of the Glens: Another who looks as if she’d be much better for the step up in trip; Second to Manderley on the second of her three runs so far but this a huge step up in class for her to take from here and others appeal far more.
Marvellous: didn’t land a blow behind Bracelet on seasonal reappearance but learned a great deal and soft ground over the straight mile proved perfect as she romped to Irish Guineas win here; Backed into favouritism for the Oaks, but didn’t appear to handle the track or stay that day when laboured sixth and hard to get enthusiastic about her over this trip again although this course should suit much better and blinkers may help, while she’s had a break; Hard to evaluate.
Palace: Highly liked by yard based on well backed favouritism on both her first starts and ran cracker to be second in Listed event when in season; Then fifth behind Marvellous in Irish Guineas and seventh in Oaks at Epsom; Run come close second and won listed event at Killarney but seems exposed at this level.
Tapestry: Not lived upto juvenile form on two starts this season but was clearly wrong physically in the Guineas and looked as if a step up in trip would help when sixth in the Coronation, caught for speed although that was exaggerated by very slow pace that day; Notable that she’s presumably the no.1 on jockey bookings here still although that doesn’t mean that she hasn’t got a lot to prove.
Tarfasha: Looked ready for a step upto middle distances at the end of last year and relished that chance when an impressive reappearance winner in the Blue Wind Stakes; Fancied to run a big race at Epsom following that and duly did, finishing almost in company with Tarfasha when second there; Should go well again today, having finished very strongly there.
Volume: Steadily improving as Listed win at Newbury showed, enjoying the freedom to lead (had been keen previously) and then again at Epsom, when she put up a brave but futile resistance to Taghrooda and essentially finished in tandem with Tarfsha who she again faces today; Should go well again and take the beating although potentially yet more opposition for the lead.
Vote Often: Three runs since debut, all with cut in the ground, and a wide margin winner at Naas, a winner of the Park Lodge Stakes and then third in the Irish Guineas, although she had no answer to Marvellous that day and now steps up 4 furlongs in trip and into a much tougher race; Would’ve wanted more rain today and easy enough to avoid.
VERDICT: The withdrawal of Taghrooda after being quoted at 4/5 was frustrating for many, myself included, but we have a competitive and interesting affair in her wake while getting to see the best of the three year old middle distance filly form tested, so on a sporting level everybody wins, especially compared to the Irish Derby that we had this year. Epsom second and third Tarfasha and Volume will be hard to split while this test could favour Tapestry and Marvellous, but it was a great shame not to see BRACELET there and she could be involved at the thick end of proceedings, having relished the step upto 1m4f when holding off Lustrous to win the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot. She shaped well that day and is worth giving a chance in a very open renewal.