Irish Oaks 2014: Tarfasha’s hopes rest on rain holding off

The filly wants good ground at the Curragh

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The Independent Online

Taghrooda looked clearly the best of this crop of three-year-old fillies when winning the Oaks decisively. However, though the decision to run her against her elders in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot next Saturday instead of in the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh tomorrow afternoon is bold and exciting, it does at the same time deprive us of a chance to see whether she can confirm her dominance of her own age group away from Epsom.

Aidan O’Brien’s Marvellous, a disappointing sixth after looking so good in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, did not handle the Epsom gradients, while it is not entirely fanciful to suggest that the placed horses, Tarfasha and Volume, might turn the tables on Taghrooda on a more conventional track.

Keeping Taghrooda for the King George makes sense if Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum is convinced the race can be safely left to Tarfasha (he owns both fillies) and listening to trainer Dermot Weld and jockey Pat Smullen today, they seemed to be more worried about what the weather might do this weekend than any of the opposition.

Tarfasha (5.45, Curragh) wants good ground, but Weld has a back-up if one of the severe storms forecast strikes Co Kildare; Vote Often, in her element on soft ground and expected to relish this step-up in trip, is a 16-1 outsider well worth keeping an eye on if the rains come.

Tapestry, Bracelet and Palace are other O’Brien challengers with chances while Beyond Brilliance will be ridden by the trainer’s 18-year-old daughter, Ana, just the second woman ever to ride in an Irish classic.

With a quarter of a million up for grabs and weights partially governed by a horse’s price at auction, the Weatherbys Super Sprint is an opportunity for bargain buyers to be handsomely rewarded for their shrewdness.

Richard Fahey and Richard Hannon each run five, including market leaders Realtra and Tiggy Wiggy. Bond’s Girl (3.50, Newbury) would appear to be one of Fahey’s less fancied runners according to jockey bookings, but he ran better than his final position suggests at Royal Ascot and is a tempting each-way prospect.

Al Kazeem (2.40, Newbury), winner of three Group Ones last summer, takes it nice and easy on his return to racing after proving sub-fertile at stud. Much bigger tests await, including the Juddmonte at York next month.

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