Irish punch-drunk by Stoute's Pure genius

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The Independent Online
Racing

Few would have thought it possible, but it could be that the Irish are getting sick of Stoute. Michael Stoute, the man from rum-punch country who is currently in the land of the mint julep, annexed the Irish Oaks for the fifth time when Pure Grain was successful at the Curragh yesterday.

For those who like to keep their statistics up to date, it was a 10th Irish Classic victory for the Barbadian-born Newmarket trainer who is currently on a shopping expedition at the Keeneland Sales in Kentucky. It is now 11 years since the Irish managed to keep a hold of their own race when Princess Pati was victorious.

Before the stalls opened, most predicted that Sheikh Mohammed would win his money back. As well as sponsoring the race via his Kildangan Stud, Dubai's crown prince had swelled the Curragh pool by pounds IR50,000 by supplementing two runners to join an original entry. As the trio were all well fancied the event had the flavour of someone putting up a prize for his own game of patience.

The Sheikh's principal aspirant was expected to be Larrocha, who was unbeaten following two starts for Luca Cumani. As a two-year-old, the filly was known as the elephant, but there were plenty who believed she would resemble something a lot more slinky and spotted from the Serengeti on Ireland's plain yesterday.

Larrocha was sent off the 9-4 favourite on the back of her facile win in a Listed event at Newbury but fell victim to one of racing's great truisms: that you do not go bankrupt opposing horses that are stepped up violently in class.

Walter Swinburn tried to make use of his filly's yawning stride from the front, but had no response when the pace quickened, fading to finish fifth. "She just couldn't handle the ground," Cumani reported.

There were other maroon and white silks further ahead as Valley Of Gold finished third and Russian Snows, ironically the animal that was not supplemented, filling the runner's-up spot. None, however, could keep up with Pure Grain.

The filly went to post a weakening 9-2 chance, thanks mainly to the rain which had eased her favourite firm ground. In addition, she represented Epsom Oaks form which seemed to have more holes in it than a tramp's trousers. Pure Grain, though, was an unwilling Cinderella at Epsom, losing a shoe in the course of the Classic and returning with an over-reach on her heel.

The daughter of Polish Precedent was third to Moonshell at Epsom and was never out of the first three yesterday. By the time the field streamed past the two-furlong marker, Pure Grain had wriggled through a split between Musetta and Valley Of Gold and, by the time the line arrived, John Reid, who was capturing his fourth Irish Classic, had opened up a six-length distance of authority.

The victorious colours of cherry, black, primrose and white, among the oldest in Irish racing, belonged to a man from over the border, Robert Barnett. This was a first post-War Irish Classic for the Barnett family though they have seen their livery carried to notable success in Britain, through Time Charter and Master Willie, who won such as the Oaks, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Eclipse Stakes and Coronation Cup between them.

Barnett was questioned about when his silks, atop Pure Grain, would next be seen, but he seemed to have a toast to Stoute as a more relevant matter in his mind. "I pick the trainers," he said, "they pick the races."

THE CURRAGH

3.45: (1m 4f, Group One Irish Oaks)

1. PURE GRAIN bay filly Polish Precedent - Mill Line J Reid 9-2

2. Russian Snows M J Kinane 13-2

3 Valley Of Gold L Dettori 4-1

Also: Musetta 14-1 (4th), Larrocha 9-4 fav (5th), Asterita 16-1 (6th), Bluffing 50-1 (7th), Riyama 14-1 (8th), Crystal Bird 200-1 (9th), Alisidora 10-1 (10th).

10 ran. (Trained by M Stoute, at Newmarket, for R Barnett). Tote: pounds 4.50; pounds 1.80, pounds 1.70, pounds 1.70. Reverse forecast: pounds 20.10. CSF: pounds 29.99. Non Runner: Taibhseach.

RICHARD EDMONDSON

NAP: Tropical Dance

(Windsor 8.00)

NB: Charnwood Queen

(Windsor 9.00)

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