In search of a sweep of the four Irish classics (the Irish St. Leger, Ire-I, is open to older horses), trainer Aidan O'Brien sent half of the dozen runners into the July 15 Kildangan Stud Irish Oaks (Ire-I) over 12 furlongs at the Curragh. When the dust settled, Newmarket trainer Ed Dunlop emerged with the glory and most of the money after Lailani and Mot Juste ran one-two to give him the biggest day of his career.
O'Brien's Chamela Bay had lots of daylight between herself and the pursuing pack entering the 2 1/2-furlong straight, but she was collared by Mot Juste inside the quarter-pole before Lailani and Frankie Dettori, sixth into the straight, swept by in the final 100 yards to win by a neck. O'Brien's Karsavina was a length away in third. Time Away, third in the French Oaks (Fr-I) and trained by Dunlop's father, John, came home sixth while 4-1 favorite Relish the Thought, third in the Epsom Oaks (Eng-I), was 10th.
Lailani was unplaced in two starts at two, then broke her maiden and won three handicaps in succession before undertaking the Irish Oaks, her first outing against group company. Sheikh Maktoum, who owns Gainsborough Stables, insisted on supplementing (Ir£28,000) the daughter of Unfuwain to the Oaks.
"I don't mind admitting I thought the prospect of the Irish Oaks a bit frightening," Dunlop said. "A month ago this filly did not have any fancy entries, but we put her in the Yorkshire Oaks (Eng-I, Aug. 22) and that is a possibility now."
Newmarket's three-day (July 10-12) summer meeting on the July Course produced another shining light for O'Brien when Mozart dominated the Darley July Cup (Eng-I), going wire-to-wire over the six furlongs to win by 3 1/2 lengths from in-foal Cassandra Go and Misraah in the field of 18. Mozart started as the 4-1 favorite under Michael Kinane and gave O'Brien his eighth group I winner this year.
"We've got no horses we can work with him at home," O'Brien said of the Michael Tabor/Susan Magnier 3-year-old, second in the mile Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) before success in Royal Ascot's Jersey Stakes (Eng-III) at seven furlongs. "The Breeders' Cup will be considered but he will go for the Nunthorpe Stakes (Eng-I, five furlongs, Aug. 23) first."
Last year, Agnes World became the first Japanese-trained winner of a British group I race when Yutaka Take got him home in the July Cup. This year, Germany won its first British group race since Star Appeal took the 1975 Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) when Proudwings proved too good for a field of 11 in the mile Falmouth Stakes (Eng-II). Take, now based in France, was on board.
The 5-year-old mare, homebred by Dr. Rolf Wilhelms and racing for his Hyperion Breeding, is one of 45 horses trained at Cologne by former jockey (708 winners) Ralf Suerland. Despite having won three of her previous five starts, Proudwings started at 10-1.
"She is the best horse I've had in 10 years of training and has now won in four countries (Germany, France, Italy, England)," said Suerland. "I think after this she will go for the Prix Jacques le Marois (Fr-I) at Deauville."