Runner-by-runner guide to the Juddmonte Irish Oaks


Eight stand their ground for the running of the fillies Classic at the Curragh

Friday, July 16, 2021
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Eight fillies have the chance to etch their name into Classic history with victory in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks, writes Tom Harle.

The 2021 edition promises to be a high-quality renewal of the 1m4f contest, first run all the way back in 1895 and won last time out by Even So for Ger Lyons.

Here’s our handy guide to the Curragh contenders.

1. SNOWFALL

The last horse to win the Epsom and Irish Oaks in the same season was Enable in 2017

Snowfall’s record-setting 16-length triumph at Epsom suggests she belongs in such exalted company, resounding favourite to earn Aidan O’Brien a first win in this one since 2015.

Making incredible strides after finishing eighth or worse three times as a juvenile, victory here and those odds for the Arc could fall even further.

2. LA JOCONDE

Daughter of Frankel, La Joconde won her maiden last time out at Roscommon.

She could be the furthest forward of the O’Brien battery and will be guided by 2020 Epsom Derby winning jockey Emmet McNamara.

Having run in the Epsom Oaks, finishing 11th, the occasion will not overaw her.

3. NICEST

Donnacha O'Brien’s contender finished third in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot despite losing her shoe

Only Snowfall (120) is rated higher than this horse’s mark of 105, having won on debut at Leopardstown last summer. Gavin Ryan will partner her once again, as he did that day

Her dam, Chicquita, won this race in 2013 under Johnny Murtagh and she could run well.

4. AHANDFULOFSUMMERS

A rank outsider for James Stack, she remains a maiden after seven runs

She has twice finished second, to Divinely at the Curragh in a Group 3 last summer and last time out at Listowel

Available at 66/1 in some places.

5. MARIESQU

Joseph O’Brien takes forward one of the least experienced horse in the field having only raced three times before

She did, however, win her maiden over nine furlongs at Gowran Park in early June and looks well capable of progressing from here

But fifth place, nearly five lengths down in Willow, in the Oaks Trial at Naas suggests a place is well beyond her

6. DIVINELY

A distant third in the Epsom Oaks behind her stablemate, like Snowfall this horse is making significant if less heralded improvement on her juvenile season

Her fourth in the Ribblesdale at Ascot was judged as a good outing and she is one of Galileo’s progeny

Will be firmly in the hunt to place.

7. PARTY HOUSE

Ger Lyons’s defence of the Oaks title rests at the hooves of a horse preparing for a fourth career run, all in the care of Colin Keane who won the 2020 renewal as a jockey

She won her first race under rules at Naas by a length in April, since returning to finish sixth in the Oaks Trial

Looks good in transit but may again struggle to stay the distance.

8. WILLOW

Priced attractively for a place at 12/1, this is another horse in blue and orange with excellent pedigree, by American Pharoah.

She finished last in the Epsom Oaks but returned to winning ways in a familiar field of ten at Naas, and will be in the expert hands of Classic master Seamie Heffernan.

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