Riposte and Venus added to Oaks
Riposte and Venus De Milo have been supplemented for the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh on Saturday evening.
Trained respectively by Lady Cecil and Aidan O'Brien, connections of the two fillies have stumped up the 40,000 euro required to allow them to contest the Irish Classic. The Khalid Abdullah-owned Riposte was a striking winner of the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot on her last start, while the unbeaten Venus De Milo claimed an Oaks trial at Naas towards the end of June.
O'Brien, who could also be represented by Just Pretending, Magical Dream and Say, said: "All four horses are in very good form and deserve to take their chances in Saturday's race. Venus De Milo is a fast-improving filly and we like her a lot. Just Pretending ran a fine race at Royal Ascot (second to Riposte) and has come out of that race in great shape. We will make a final decision on plans later in the week."
A total of 13 fillies have stood firm at the final entry stage, with Ralph Beckett having confirmed Investec Oaks one-two Talent and Secret Gesture. Talent sprang a major surprise when slamming her better-fancied stable companion in Epsom's mile-and-a-half Classic at the end of May. An attempt to complete the English-Irish Oaks double has been on her agenda ever since.
However, Beckett reports Secret Gesture not yet a definite runner, saying: "Both fillies have been left in the race. Talent will definitely run, but we won't make a decision on whether Secret Gesture will run until declaration time. Both horses are fine and in good form."
French interest is spiked by the Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained Chicquita, runner-up in the Prix de Diane last month.
Circumstances have conspired against Alive Alive Oh since she won a Listed contest at Navan in early May. Pulled out of the Ribblesdale because the ground was too quick, she was withdrawn from the Pretty Polly Stakes as she was found to be in season on the morning of the race. While connections of the Tommy Stack-trained filly are keeping an eye on the weather and ground conditions, they hope it will be a case of third-time lucky.
Stack's son and assistant Fozzy told At The Races: "She's in good form. I've checked with the Curragh and they have started watering, so hopefully it will get into the ground. She's out of a Sadler's Wells mare so hopefully she'll get the trip. She's a very relaxed filly and there's no reason why she shouldn't, but you never know until you try.
"Talent was impressive in Epsom as was Riposte in Ascot and she's obviously improving. She's got a great pedigree and is related to Frankel. It's not going to be an easy assignment, but we go there with a good chance."
Newmarket trainer Clive Brittain could give Masarah another shot at the big time, while David Simcock has left in Miss You Too. Jim Bolger can call on Scintillula, with the once-raced Tarana still in the frame for John Oxx.