Our runner-by-runner guide to the 2020 Irish Oaks
We preview the field in this year’s Irish Fillies’ Classic
This weekend sees the Irish Oaks take centre stage, with eight three-year-old fillies lining up to compete for the 2020 edition of the Irish Classic.
Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien sends out four runners in the field, bidding for a record-equalling sixth win in the Irish Oaks despite being without Love at the Curragh, favouring next month’s Yorkshire Oaks instead.
He’s still managed to get together a strong squad of four, headed by Ennistymon, with the Jessica Harrington-trained Cayenne Pepper the favourite heading into the Group 1 contest.
Ahead of the race, which gets underway at 19:15 on Saturday, we’re giving you a run down of all the declared runners, before you check out the latest odds.
Cayenne Pepper | 1114-2 | Shane Foley |Jessica Harrington
The Jessica Harrington-trained filly started last season with three wins on the spin, including a two-and-a-half length win over So Wonderful at the Curragh in the Group 3 Flame of Tara.
Expectations were brought back down to earth after falling three lengths back in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket, finishing behind Powerful Breeze, Love and Quadrilateral.
Her most recent run came in the Pretty Polly in June, finishing just shy of five lengths back from the classy Magical. Her run deserved more than the distance gives credit for though, staying on over the 1m 2f course against older, more experience opposition.
The jump back down to her own age group should allow her to lead from the front with Shane Foley on board.
Ennistymon | 7-122 | Wayne Lordan | Aidan O’Brien
Finishing runner-up to Love in the Investec Oaks just two weeks ago shows good form on paper, but finishing a staggering nine lengths back could be the more important statistic to look at.
Ennistymon gives Aidan O’Brien and the Ballydoyle stable their best chance of securing that record-equalling sixth Irish Oaks win, but she’s yet to pick up a winner at Group level.
She’s got more experience over the 1m 4f distance than others, including favourite Cayenne Pepper, which could give her the edge in Saturday’s Group 1 contest.
Snow | 84-121 | Michael Hussey | Aidan O’Brien
The second of Aidan O’Brien’s pack started off slowly as a two-year-old, but as a three-year-old, she’s finally found her feet.
She managed to claim her first career win at the Curragh in the Fillies Maiden by just under a length from Salsa, before finishing as the runner-up in a Group 3 contest eight days later.
Her best shift to date came in her last run out, staying on to land the Group 2 Munster Oaks ahead of Yaxeni, who she’ll face again here.
Even So | 31-351 | Colin Keane | Ger Lyons
After picking up his first Irish Classic win in the Irish 2,000 Guineas with Siskin, could Ger Lyons secure a second at the Curragh with Even So? She’s expected to have a tougher time of it than Siskin did.
Even So managed to finish a noteworthy fifth in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, staying on well over the mile course and falling only four lengths back of Peaceful.
She’s managed to maintain a decent level as a three-year-old, with a victory in the 1m 2f Naas Oaks Trial showing she could have what it takes, finishing ahead of re-opposing rival Laburnum.
This looks to be the biggest test of her career so far, but going on her current progression, she could take it all in her stride.
Laburnum | 12 | Declan McDonogh | Aidan O’Brien
We’ve seen a promising start to the three-year-old’s career so far, winning on debut by just under two lengths from Thunder Kiss at Gowran Park.
She followed it up with another solid performance, being touched off at the last by Even So, who she’s up against again here.
If Laburnum continues her progression, she could pose a threat in only her third start, and her first step up to a Group 1 contest. Serpentine’s lightly-raced record didn’t stand against him at Epsom not too long ago.
New York Girl | 41-47 | Shane Crosse | Joseph O’Brien
New York Girl’s form appears to have dropped off of late, judging by her last two runs. She’ll have to find a lot more if she’s to challenge the frontrunners.
Joseph O’Brien’s only runner faded away to fourth in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, before a less than impressive seventh placed finish in the Irish Derby two weeks later.
Tactics could have played a part in that performance in the Derby, holding on to the back of the pack before staying on well later on. Changing up the tactics could see her run a better race here.
Yaxeni | 1-34 | Gary Carroll | Ger Lyons
After victory in her sole start as a two-year-old, she’s failed to convert in her two runs as a three-year-old.
The Ger Lyons-trained filly came third in her first run of the season in the Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes at Leopardstown, before coming home in fourth in her next outing in the Munster Oaks.
There’s still more improvement to be had from the daughter of Maxios, but the Irish Oaks could come too soon for her to challenge nearer the front.
Passion | 17-435 | W J Lee | Aidan O’Brien
Aidan O’Brien’s last entry into the Oaks looks set to pick up the slack as the pacemaker for Ennistymon and Snow after being well beaten in the Ribbledale and English Oaks this season.
We’ve seen a number of O’Brien’s outsiders spring a shock from the back of the pack at larger prices in the last few years, but this could be a challenge too far for Passion.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.