Just like last year, when Sariska came out of an undignified scrap at Epsom to cruise home at the Curragh, the Darley Irish Oaks yesterday seemed to end all equivocation about the superiority of Snow Fairy. Her success at Epsom had been largely ascribed to the riding of Ryan Moore, but this time she romped home by no fewer than eight lengths.
Her performance this time instead reflected chiefly upon her trainer, Ed Dunlop, whose third success in this race may well be still more precious than those of Lailani (2001) and Ouija Board (2004), now that he is running a stable on his own account. Both here and at Epsom, moreover, he had emboldened her owners to fork out for a supplementary entry, believing her to have been transformed by a test of stamina this season.
Ice Empress, one of five runners saddled by Aidan O'Brien, set a strong gallop until the Ballydoyle trainer's son, Joseph, went by on the 66-1 shot, Lady Lupus, turning for home. But Snow Fairy, who had been settled in midfield, responded instantly when Moore asked her to challenge over a furlong out, powering clear of the Godolphin second string, Miss Jean Brodie. Lady Lupus defied her odds by hanging on for third, beaten another three-quarters of a length.
The analogy to 12 months ago extended to Meeznah, who had been second at Epsom but could not get involved on this softer ground and managed only fourth. Much the same had proved true of Midday, last year, so David Lanigan will have to comfort himself with the way that filly regrouped to win at the Breeders' Cup in the autumn. Godolphin's principal hope, Hibaayeb, was last.
"That was pretty spectacular, really, the way she put the race to bed," Dunlop said. "Ryan said she got bumped at one stage, and that she'd be better on better ground. We were very confident she'd go well on decent ground, so I was walking my box a bit today. It was the owner who decided to take the plunge and said go. She's stronger than she was at Epsom, and has a huge heart. The Yorkshire Oaks is a possibility now. We'd have to start to think of going down a similar road to Ouija Board. I'm reliably informed that assuming everything is okay, she'll stay in training as a four year old."
There was another runaway winner in the Jebel Ali Anglesey Stakes, a race of only four runners but targeted by Ballydoyle over the years for some of its better juveniles. This time O'Brien again had the hot favourite in Samuel Morse, but Dunboyne Express thrashed him by eight lengths to earn quotes of 14-1 for next year's 2,000 Guineas.
Trained by Kevin Prendergast, this Shamardal colt – from the family of Love Divine and Sixties Icon – had won his debut over seven furlongs at Leopardstown but coped in spectacular fashion with a shorter trip here. "He's a smart horse," Prendergast said. "Maybe the opposition didn't handle the ground but he likes it, it was nice, steady ground. He has come on a lot from Leopardstown, and learnt a lot there. If we get nice ground he could run in the Phoenix Stakes, and he's also in the National Stakes."
Jessica Harrington was another trainer to see off a fancied Ballydoyle juvenile when Pathfork made an impressive debut in the opener. Another well bred animal – from the family of the brilliant Spinning World – he beat the odds-on Robin Hood by four lengths.
Buzzword, ridden by Royston Ffrench, completed a profitable weekend in Germany for his owners when reversing Royal Ascot form with Monterosso in the Deutsches Derby in Hamburg – a second Group One in as many days for Godolphin, and a first Classic triumph for its rookie trainer, Mahmood Al Zarooni. Campanologist had struck the previous day, for Saeed bin Suroor, and Buzzword gamely ran down the local hope, Zazou, in the closing stages.
Mawatheeq will miss the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Saturday. Well beaten on his delayed reappearance at Royal Ascot, he was failed to enter the stalls in the Eclipse and now faces another interruption to his campaign. Marcus Tregoning, his trainer, said: "We've just decided he wants a bit more time after the injury problem he had in the spring."
Chris McGrath's Nap Azaday (4.45 Yarmouth)
Looks guaranteed to win handicaps off this kind of rating, keeping on stoutly for third despite meeting traffic over an inadequate distance at Redcar in May. Not seen since, but astute trainer is in good form and today gives this filly a test more in keeping with her pedigree.
Next Best Our Drama Queen (8.40 Windsor)
An artful ride from Richard Hughes disguised the extent of her superiority at Newbury the other day, always going well and produced through traffic late on. Only just getting going now and looks equal to her revised mark.
One to watch
Already gelded and clearly a slow developer, Politbureau (M Johnston) seemed hopelessly confused making his debut at Leicester last week, but mustered encouraging momentum out of midfield in the closing stages.
Where the Money's Going
Oasis Dancer, out of his depth in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, is 10-1 from 12-1 with Paddy Power for his return to handicaps in the Totesport Mile at Goodwood next week.Reuse content