It's a low-key second day to the Irish Oaks meeting but Tony Keenan has found three horses to back and takes a brief look ahead to the Arc at ParisLongchamp...
"I’m So Fancy has improved this season and is the most likely filly in the field to run her race; she is in the form of her life and has coped well with fast ground the last twice while stepping up a furlong from last time is another plus."
James Doyle had himself a day yesterday, riding a Group race treble at the Curragh, with his steer on Sea Of Class in the Oaks the highpoint in more ways than one. The ride was rightly lauded afterwards and what made it impressive was its counterintuitive nature; again and again in top-level races we see jockeys willing to play fast and loose with the whip and interference rules with seemingly little regard for consequences but Doyle resisted every natural urge to go for the stick on his mount.
Talk of the Arc for Sea Of Class might be a bit premature - she was only beating Forever Together after all - but looking to take a chance on something at a price in that race could be the right way to go; both the market leaders Enable and Cracksman have doubts around them, the former not seen since the Arc last year, the latter blotting his copybook at Royal Ascot. Furthermore, there is no standout Ballydoyle horse for the race and Order Of St George may again be their number one.
The one that takes my fancy - and is worth putting in the book now with the thin punting opportunities around this afternoon - is Study Of Man. French-trained three-year-olds are always a good starting point for the race and his Prix du Jockey Club win seems to have been underrated; it was both good on the clock and the form is working out. Judging on how Study Of Man finished out the race, 12 furlongs could bring further improvement though a run in the Irish Champion Stakes beforehand is being considered.
Fire Fly is likely to be a short price in the opener but this trip looked on the sharp side when she ran in a Group 3 last time; perhaps the drop in grade will allow her to get away with it but is has to be a concern. Foxtrot Liv could be the one to take advantage after a promising debut fourth at Naas when completely unfancied. Travelling well in mid-field, she wasn't helped by a slight stumble on one of the ridges around halfway but came home well under hands-and-heels. Her sales history (bought of 6,000 guineas as a yearling, unsold for 11,000 as a foal) is none too inspiring but her trainer has her entered in both the Lowther and the Debutante suggesting she shows plenty at home.
The up-and-comer Mabs Cross looks like going off favourite and she could still be improving after only starting racing last April; still, her times isn't quite as good as those of Caspian Prince lately and she was flattered to get so close to Battaash last time as that one did too much too soon. Furthermore, there is a suspicion she is better over a really stiff five furlongs.
Caspian Prince has been rejuvenated (again) by Mick Appleby and his weight-carrying performances in handicaps give him the edge on the clock; he may even have won last time had his jockey went a little harder as he was coming back at Battle Of Jericho at the line. An 11lbs swing with that rival should see him reverse the form and he has a fine record at the track, form figures reading:25142, defeating Marsha in this race last year among his best efforts.
Magical and September have upwards of seven pounds in hand of their rivals in the Kilboy Estate but while both were competing in Group 1s last season, there have to be doubts about how close they can get to that level now with this race being used as a starting point for autumn campaigns. Aidan O'Brien has certainly been negative on their respective chances and it could be worth chancing a couple against them in I'm So Fancy and Ship Of Dreams.
I'm So Fancy has improved this season and is the most likely filly in the field to run her race; she is in the form of her life and has coped well with fast ground the last twice while stepping up a furlong from last time is another plus. Furthermore, her previous form from Gowran Park in late May looks better now with wins for Turret Rocks and Bella Estrella this week.
Ship Of Dreams needs a little more explaining but she too has improved for better ground on her last three starts, her second to Who's Steph suggesting this trip should be within her compass while things didn't really fall her way in the Sandringham where she met some trouble. Her Killarney run was disappointing but they didn't seem to go much of a gallop and when that was combined with the tight track there was insufficient emphasis on stamina.
2018 P+L: -19.7 points
0.5 Point Back Foxtrot Liv @ [11.0] or bigger in the Curragh 13:45
0.5 Point Place Back Foxtrot Liv @ [3.0] or bigger in the Curragh 13:45
1 Point Back Caspian Prince @ [3.9] or bigger in the Curragh 14:55
1 Point Back I’m So Fancy @ [6.0] or bigger in the Curragh 15:30
1 Point Back Ship Of Dreams @ [15.5] or bigger in the Curragh 15:30
Back Study Of Man @ [16.0] for the Arc de Triomphe