The Darley Irish Oaks is centre stage on Saturday at the Curragh and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Magic Wand is a strong fancy to secure Classic success.
Magic Wand – 5.30 Curragh – to win @ 11/8
The record-breaking trainer accounts for three of the seven runners in Saturday’s race as he attempts to match Sir Michael Stoute’s record of six wins in the Irish Oaks. O’Brien claimed this prize three times on the trot from 2006 onwards and he’s been the sole bright spot in more recent times for a beleaguered home team.
Seven of the previous nine winners have been trained in Britain or France. The exceptions in the sequence came in 2014 and 2016, when O’Brien saddled the winners. Magic Wand is the market leader here and it is her form, as opposed to any tricks of the mind, that makes her stand out strongly.
She was an impressive Cheshire Oaks winner in May, defeating re-opposing stablemate Together Forever. That form was turned upside in the Oaks at Epsom but it seems highly plausible that result can be attributed to the soft ground that day.
The winner has already been beaten this month at the Curragh, while Magic Wand came out in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot and comfortably took the scalp of Oaks second Wild Illusion.
She craves a fast surface it seems and will have that here. British raider Sea Of Class is a potential danger but may not have the experience under her belt to land this race in her first foray in group-race company.
Liberatrix – 2.15 Newmarket – to win @ 3/1
Mark Johnston’s Liberatrix overcame inexperience to score on debut at Chelmsford recently and is fancied to improve sufficiently to double her tally under a penalty.
She certainly didn’t do everything right on debut, sporting her six rivals an advantage on the home turn as she breasted the bend in last place.
Franny Norton got her going and she then picked up quite impressive to come home strongly and win by a cosy three-parts of a length and justify her favourite tag.
This daughter of Iffraaj looks capable of adding to the tally, despite carry a penalty, and should also improve for that debut outing.
Emotionless – 1.50 Newbury – to win @ 2/1
Once a promising juvenile, things certainly did take a nosedive for Emotionless after a fine start in 2015. His bubble was burst in the Dewhurst and this will be his first start on a British racecourse since August of 2016.
He showed his well-being when chasing home another Godolphin-owned runner in Benbatl in Group 3 fare at Meydan back in the spring. That form sees him in a positive light for this mission.
The Appleby string currently boasts a superb 33 per cent strike-rate and could not be in better form. Given the patience shown with Emotionless, it is safe to assume connections believe he can still offer something and he can prove it here.
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