Joseph O’Brien will bid to become just the fourth Irish trainer this century to land the Group 1 Kerrygold Irish Oaks when he saddles Iridessa for the penultimate classic of the domestic season at the Curragh on Saturday.
A winner of last season’s Fillies Mile Iridessa came back to her very best to record her second success at Group 1 level in last month’s Juddmonte Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh. As he goes in search of a second Irish classic O’Brien reports the daughter of Ruler Of The World to be in good shape.
"Iridessa has come out of the Pretty Polly Stakes well and she didn’t look like she was stopping that day so we are looking forward to it," O'Brien said.
"We were over the moon with her in the Pretty Polly and she really thrived on the step up in distance that day. We think going further this weekend will probably be fine for her as well but it is always a bit of an unknown how they will get the extra two furlongs."
The Irish Oaks has gone to overseas trainers in eight of the last 10 years and there will be another strong challenge from across the Irish Sea headed by John Gosden’s Ribblesdale Stakes heroine Star Catcher.
The fast improving filly will be looking to give Frankie Dettori a fifth Irish Oaks and a second in three years after he landed the race on the Gosden-trained Enable in 2017.
"Star Catcher seems in good form but she’s got to take on the very best now,” Dettori said. “She won her Group 2 at Ascot but classics are very hard to win. We’ll be trying our very best.
"Her home work has always been good and Ascot wasn’t a surprise to us as she has taken a good step forward every time she ran. She’ll have to do that again to feature in the finish on Saturday but at the moment all the home work has been very good and I can't wait to get back to the Curragh again."
Ralph Beckett, who went within a short head of winning the 2005 Irish 1000 Guineas with Penkenna Princess, saddles two runners in Antonia De Vega and Manuela De Vega who is ridden by Harry Bentley as she looks to build on a close fourth in the Epsom Oaks. Antonia De Vega is the mount of Colin Keane and was last seen winning a Listed race at Newbury last month.
Aidan O’Brien saddles three fillies in a bid to equal Sir Michael Stoute’s record of six wins in the race. The Ballydoyle trainer relies on the Epsom Oaks second and third, Pink Dogwood and Fleeting, and last week’s Group 3 scorer Peach Tree.
Jessica Harrington will look to continue her brilliant run of form with the Naas Oaks Trial winner Trethias who is the mount of Shane Foley. The promising Search For A Song, who was second in that Naas race, is looking to give Dermot Weld his first win in the race since fellow Moyglare Stud-owned filly Dance Design prevailed in 1996. Chris Hayes will partner the daughter of Galileo.
The line up is completed by Operatic Export who represents Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning.
Bookmakers Paddy Power have installed the Aidan O'Brien-trained Pink Dogwood as the 2/1 favourite, just ahead of Iridessa at 9/4.
The ground is currently described as good to firm.