Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Was out to defy conditions

Was

Connections of Investec Oaks heroine Was are hoping she handles the ground when she attempts a Classic double in the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained filly was due to run in the Pretty Polly Stakes after her Epsom victory, but she was withdrawn because of the testing going, and conditions are once again a concern.

"The ground might not be ideal, but it's the Oaks so we'll take our chance and see what happens. She is a lightly raced filly and hopefully she'll run a good race," said jockey Joseph O'Brien.

Was finished third behind Princess Highway on her seasonal bow when they met in the Blue Wind Stakes at Naas in May and the latter's jockey, Pat Smullen, is hoping his mount can confirm the form.

He said: "Granted Was had probably improved since Naas, but her (Princess Highway's) form is the strongest at the moment, in my opinion."

William Buick, who has been in red-hot form, will be on the strongly fancied Lancashire Oaks winner Great Heavens for the John Gosden team.

The jockey said: "She's a nice filly and likes a strong gallop, but this is a different level for her. She won the Lancashire Oaks in great style, likes a bit of juice in the ground and stays really well.

"I think Princess Highway won the Ribblesdale very well, she's clearly very good and will take all the beating. But mine's a relentless galloper and we'll see how she goes."

Hughie Morrison's Shirocco Star was narrowly beaten by Was at Epsom and was third behind Princess Highway at Ascot. The East Ilsley handler said: "She seems fine and it's quite rightly a very competitive race.

"We've been beaten by a couple of them before, so we know it's going to be difficult, but she's been second in one Oaks and we wanted to have a go at another. We don't know how she'll handle conditions. She might hate it and if she does, we'll have learned our lesson."