Talent, Riposte Square Off in Irish Oaks
Impressive Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) winner Talent and Royal Ascot victress Riposte headline an eight-horse field for the €400,000 Darley Irish Oaks (Ire-I) July 20 at the Curragh.
Irish bookmaker Boylesports has pegged the two fillies as the 5-2 co-favorites for the 1 1/2-mile classic that frequently attracts the season's Epsom Oaks winner.
The 2010 win by Snow Fairy marked the 12th time the Epsom/Irish Oaks double has been completed in the modern history of the race, which was first run in 1895.
Talent sprung a scintillating 20-1 upset in the Epsom Oaks May 31. She kicked from the back of the field to clearly deny highly regarded Oaks Trial winner and stablemate Secret Gesture, who was pulled from consideration for the Irish equivalent after sustaining a hind leg injury.
Trainer Ralph Beckett told the Times he was astonished when Talent derailed classic glory for Secret Gesture, the 3-1 second favorite at Epsom, but that he is hoping for another winning performance by his New Approach filly.
"I'd gone (to Epsom) certain Secret Gesture would win. I was stunned when they finished in that order," Beckett said. "We never saw that coming. Looking back, Talent was more precocious than Secret Gesture and that's why she won—she was able to handle everything on the day."
A win by Juddmonte's homebred Riposte in the Irish Oaks would make Lady Cecil only the second woman to train a classic winner in Ireland.
Nine days after the death from cancer of legendary trainer Henry Cecil, Riposte scored an emotional win in the Ribblesdale Stakes (Eng-II) June 20 at Royal Ascot for his widow, Lady Cecil, who has taken the reins at Warren Place.
The progressive Dansili filly, who is from the family of undefeated champion Frankel, was supplemented to the Irish Oaks for €40,000 after training forwardly at Newmarket.
Runner-up in her career debut April 16 at Sandown, Riposte bounced back to break her maiden by two lengths May 17 at Newmarket. She then stepped up to group company with aplomb next time out, kicking from off the pace to land the Ribblesdale from Irish Oaks entrant Just Pretending by 2 3/4 lengths.
Lady Cecil will look to follow in her husband's footsteps in the Irish Oaks. Sir Henry won the race three times, with Diminuendo (who dead-heated with Melodist in 1988), Alydaress (1989), and Ramruma (1999).
Coolmore and partners' Venus de Milo (5-1) also was a supplementary entry. The Duke of Marmalade filly is perfect in two career starts for trainer Aidan O'Brien, most recently capturing the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Naas Oaks Trial June 26.
O'Brien has two other runners entered: Just Pretending (14-1), a Giant's Causeway filly who in her start prior to the Ribblesdale led in the Irish One Thousand Guineas but faded to third after she was overtaken in the final 150 yards by winner Just The Judge, and the group III-winning Galileo filly Magical Dream (33-1) .
O'Brien seeks a fourth win in the race, following victories in consecutive years by Alexandrova (2006), Peeping Fawn (2007), and Moonstone (2008).
Also at 5-1 is Chicquita, who finished second, four lengths behind Treve in the Prix de Diane (Fr-I, French Oaks) June 16 at Chantilly. The Montjeu filly is trained in France by Alain de Royer-Dupre.
The field is rounded out by stakes winner Alive Alive Oh (Duke of Marmalade, 6-1) and Scintillula (Galileo, 33-1), who was group I-placed last year.
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