The presence of the impressive Ribblesdale Stakes winner Magic Wand appears to have scared of many of her potential rivals away ahead of Saturday’s Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks, with just six fillies standing their ground against the clear market leader.
One of three fillies representing Aidan O’Brien – the other two are Investec Oaks heroine Forever Together, and Bye Bye Baby, third in the Epsom Classic – the daughter of Galileo won the listed Cheshire Oaks at Chester in May in good style before finding the very soft ground at Epsom against her as she came home fourth behind both Forever Together and Bye Bye Baby, beaten a total of 11 lengths.
On much quicker ground at Royal Ascot however, Magic Wand made absolutely no mistake under Ryan Moore (pictured top) in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes, powering to a convincing four-length success over the favourite Wild Illusion. She is currently the 11/8 favourite with 188Bet to follow up at the Curragh on Saturday.
Her main market rival even before the final declarations was William Haggas’ unexposed Sea The Stars filly Sea Of Class (9/4 with Boylesports) , whose win on only her second racecourse appearance in listed company at Newbury in May has been boosted by the runner-up, O’Brien’s Athena, going on to land a Grade 1 event in the US last week. Sea Of Class returned to Newbury to win a similar 10-furlong event last time as her handler felt the Investec Oaks would come too soon, but now he lets her step up to the plate and go straight into Group 1 company, taking on the Ballydoyle trio.
The field is competed by Willie McCreery’s Mary Tudor, runner-up in a listed event at Naas last month, together with Joseph O’Brien’s Tissiak and Dermot Weld’s Romiyna, both unplaced in the same Naas event over 10 furlongs last time out.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.