Kerrygold Irish Oaks (Group 1) | 1m4f, 3yo filles | RTE2/RTV
Wayne Lordan has two British Classic wins to his credit and will be bidding for his first Classic success on home soil at the Curragh when he partners Iridessa for Joseph O'Brien.
Iridessa, a Group 1 winner over a mile last season, achieved a second top-level success when stepped up to 1m2f in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the track last month, and connections are optimistic the daughter of Ruler Of The World will thrive over the extra two furlongs.
O’Brien, who trained Latrobe to win last year's Irish Derby, said on Friday: "Iridessa came out of her Pretty Polly win very well. She appreciated going up in trip last time and we think she has a good chance of getting the extra two furlongs although you can never be sure."
Lordan added: "Iridessa finished off well in the Pretty Polly last time and, hopefully, she will get the mile and a half. If she does she’ll have a very good chance."
Ballydoyle trio chasing Group 1 breakthrough
Aidan O'Brien's three runners will all be seeking a first Group 1 victory in a race their trainer has won five times, most recently with Seventh Heaven three years ago.
Pink Dogwood, the mount of Ryan Moore, carries the best credentials of the trio having run second in the Oaks before finishing third in the Pretty Polly.
O’Brien said: "We were happy with Pink Dogwood's run in the Pretty Polly and she came out of the race well. She's in good form and going back to a mile and a half shouldn't inconvenience her as she was a good second in the Oaks at Epsom."
Fleeting, one place behind Pink Dogwood at Epsom before finishing second to Star Catcher in the Ribblesdale Stakes last month, is the mount of Donnacha O'Brien, who will be seeking a fifth Classic win and his second in Ireland.
Peach Tree, winner of the Group 3 Stanerra Stakes at Leopardstown on her most recent start, completes the O'Brien team with rider Seamie Heffernan bidding for a second win in the race.
O'Brien added: "Fleeting finished well in the Oaks and again in the Ribblesdale, and it looks as if a mile and a half suits her well. Peach Tree is a straightforward filly who has won over further and we're hoping she runs well."
Gosden aims to keep Star ascending
Star Catcher bids to reward the bold decision by connections to supplement her for this contest by claiming a first success at Group 1 level.
Owner/breeder Anthony Oppenheimer paid out €40,000 on Tuesday to add his progressive filly to the field following her victory in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot.
Trainer John Gosden has won the Irish Oaks with Great Heavens (2012) and Enable (2017) and believes conditions are likely to be in Star Catcher's favour.
"Star Catcher is over there already and has travelled well," he said on Friday. "She's an improving type and we've been pleased with her since the Ribblesdale. It's the last chance for three-year-old fillies to run against each other at this level and the owner has been bold in supplementing her.
"She should like the galloping nature of the track and if they have some rain which pushes the ground to good that would be fine."
De Vegas out to show Classic capabilities
Having set out to buy fillies with Classic potential, trainer Ralph Beckett and publicity-shy owners Waverley Racing can feel a sense of accomplishment when both Antonia De Vega and Manuela De Vega line up in the Irish Oaks. However, victory would undoubtedly be sweeter for connections.
Manuela De Vega already has Classic experience having finished fourth in the Oaks, while Antonia De Vega stepped forward at Newbury last month having failed to impress her trainer in the spring.
Beckett said: "The rain will help both fillies who are in good shape and in good form. Manuela De Vega is better than she has been able to show so far as she met trouble at important points during her races at Chester and Epsom. Antonia De Vega wasn't thriving in the spring or before Newbury [where she won by four lengths] but she has trained well since.
"It's tough to split the pair but it would have been difficult for Harry [Bentley] to get off Manuela De Vega given the level of form she has shown."
Harrington and Foley seek Classic glory together
Trethias, winner of the Listed Naas Oaks Trial on her most recent start, represents Jessica Harrington and Shane Foley, both of whom will be bidding for a first Classic success together.
Harrington said: "We were delighted with her win at Naas and we think she should benefit for the step up to a mile and a half. Whether she is good enough we'll have to wait and see, but there are plenty of positives and she will like the ground."
Search could be over for Weld
Dermot Weld, who last won the race with Dance Design for Moyglare Stud 23 years ago, runs Fairyhouse maiden scorer Search For A Song for the same owners.
She was runner-up to Trethias at Naas last time, and Weld said: "She is a really nice filly and while this will be a huge step up for her, she is progressive and I give her a good outside chance."
Completing the home team is the Jim Bolger-trained Operatic Export, the rank outsider in the ten-runner line-up.