Quirky Chicquita Prevails in Irish Oaks

Quirky Chicquita Prevails in Irish Oaks
Photo: Caroline Norris
Chicquita (near, red cap) comes running to take the Irish Oaks.
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Temperamental French raider Chicquita scored her first career win in the Darley Irish Oaks (Ire-I) July 20 at the Curragh, but before her connections could celebrate they had to wait out a lengthy stewards' inquiry. 

The Montjeu filly raced in second, then third, early and was put to the drive in the final furlong before securing a half-length victory from late-running Venus de Milo. Her win came into question because she sharply veered left nearing the finish line, impeding the runner-up. But after reviewing the race, the stewards let the result stand.

Winless in three lifetime starts entering the Irish Oaks, Chicquita's arrival at the Curragh was preceded by her reputation as an erratic, high-spirited filly with a proclivity for hanging. 
 
Two starts back, she looked en route to victory at Saint-Cloud but slowed dramatically in the final 50 yards, plowed into the hedge, and somersaulted before galloping away unscathed. She stamped her classic potential in the Prix de Diane (Fr-I, French Oaks) June 16 at Chantilly in her previous start, finishing second to Treve, despite bearing left in that race.
 
In the Irish Oaks, Just Pretending led the way and was challenged by Riposte a quarter mile out. The two matched strides in the straight before Chicquita roared up in the final eighth to secure the win while denying late-running Venus de Milo. 
 
Guided by Johnny Murtagh, Chicquita was timed in 2:35.01 on turf rated as good to firm.
 
Just Pretending was third, a neck behind Venus de Milo, and Riposte faded to fifth. Investec Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) winner Talent made no impression in seeking an Epsom/Irish Oaks double, racing at the back of the seven-horse field and finishing last.
 
Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre told the Irish Times that Chicquita is an intriguing filly to train. 
 
"Her temperament is very interesting because she is very quiet in training," said Royer-Dupre, who won the Irish Oaks in 2005 with the Aga Khan's Shawanda. "She never does anything wrong and in the afternoon sometimes she goes to the left and she wants to come back too early; she is quite tricky to ride in a race.
 
"Johnny Murtagh did well as she is not easy to ride. He got her relaxed and I told him when he asked her, to do it gently and not to surprise her."
 
Chicquita was bred in Ireland by Skymarc Farm and Ecurie Des Monceau, which offered her at the 2011 Arqana Deauville yearling sale, where she was bought by Australian owner Paul Makin for €600,000 ($863,700 in U.S. funds).
 
The bay filly is the only starter out of the stakes-winning Dansili mare Prudenzia, a half sister to French group III winner Pacifique. Other notable family members include English group II winner Pongee.

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