Irish Oaks countdown: Pink Dogwood tops contenders for Aidan O’Brien

Tue 16 Jul 2019

Aidan O’Brien is responsible for six of the 13 fillies confirmed for Saturday’s Kerrygold Irish Oaks at the Curragh.

The Ballydoyle maestro has saddled five previous winners of the fillies’ Classic – first striking gold with Alexandrova in 2006 before adding to his tally with Peeping Fawn (2007), Moonstone (2008), Bracelet (2014) and Seventh Heaven (2016).

His chief contender this year appears to be Pink Dogwood, who was only narrowly denied by the John Gosden-trained Anapurna in the Investec Oaks at Epsom last month, before finishing third behind Joseph O’Brien’s Iridessa in the Pretty Polly Stakes here four weeks later.

Pink Dogwood, a top-priced 3-1 with Coral, could be joined by Chablis, Credenza, Ribblesdale Stakes runner-up Fleeting, Goddess and Peach Tree.

O’Brien said: "We are very much looking forward to the Kerrygold Irish Oaks this weekend and have left six in the race at the moment. We would be thinking that Fleeting, Pink Dogwood, Peach Tree and maybe something else will run.

"Fleeting seems to be fine since Ascot and everyone is happy with her. Both Fleeting and Pink Dogwood ran close together in Epsom and ran very well and have run well since then too.

"I thought Pink Dogwood ran very well the last day in the Pretty Polly but she is going back up in trip again and we're looking forward to it."

Iridessa looks a major contender for O’Brien junior – stepping up to a mile and a half for the first time. She is a top-priced 9-4 with William Hill.

Harry Bentley reveals more about Antonia De Vega and Manuela De Vega

The British challenge is headed by Royal Ascot heroine Star Catcher. As expected, the Ribblesdale Stakes winner has been supplemented – at a cost of 40,000 euros – and will bid to provide Gosden with a third Irish Oaks success following the previous triumphs of Great Heavens (2012) and the brilliant Enable (2017).

Ralph Beckett has impressive Newbury winner Antonia De Vega and Epsom Oaks fourth Manuela De Vega in the mix.

Beckett sai: "We've left in Antonia De Vaga and Manuela De Vega and we'll just keep an eye on the ground for Antonia De Vaga. I would say at this stage Manuela De Vega is a probable runner. They're both well in themselves."

The potential field is completed by Jim Bolger’s Operatic Export, the Dermot Weld-trained Search For A Song and Trethias from the in-form yard of Jessica Harrington.

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