The Irish Oaks: where the winners have come from

Bracelet (Colm O'Donoghue) wins the Darley Irish Oaks

2014 Irish Oaks winner Bracelet under Colm O’Donoghue

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (  

 By Tom Collins 11:21AM 13 JUL 2016 

THE Irish Oaks has been a key landmark for the best three-year-old fillies to pit their talents against each other, with six of the last 17 winners of the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly of the Year title winning the race at the Curragh en route to collecting the award.

Twelve of the previous 20 winners of the race were victorious on their previous start. We look at where the previous 20 Irish Oaks winners ran on their previous start and how they fared.

Investec Oaks (Group 1) – Epsom
The Investec Oaks has been the most popular stepping stone for subsequent Irish Oaks winners, as nine of the 20 previous winners ran in the British Classic.

Five of these fillies completed the double: Snow Fairy (2010), Sariska (2009), Alexandrova (2006), Ouija Board (2004) and Ramruma (1999), while Blue Bunting (2011, 4th), Moonstone (2008, 2nd), Petrushka (2000, 4th) and Ebadiyla (1997, 6th) finished down the field at Epsom before landing the Irish equivalent.  

Snow Fairy

Snow Fairy: completed the Oaks double for Ed Dunlop

  PICTURE: Caroline Norris ( 

Only four of the nine runners in this year’s renewal have been declared for Ireland: Harlequeen, Somehow, Seventh Heaven and Turret Rocks, with the first-named boasting the highest finishing position in third.

Turret Rocks and Harlequeen hold solid each-way chances to take the prize, although the competition looks tough:

Prospects of race producing the winner (out of five): ***

Pretty Polly Stakes (Group 1) – Curragh
The Pretty Polly, at the same course but over two furlongs shorter, has also thrown up multiple Irish Oaks winners. Since 1996, three fillies that ran in the Pretty Polly have gone on to take the Irish Oaks only three weeks later, with Peeping Fawn (2007) and Dance Design (1996) winning both races. In 2002, Margarula could only finish fourth before landing the Oaks.


Pretty Polly winner Minding will not be taking part in the Irish Oaks

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (  

With this year’s winner, Minding, heading to Goodwood for the Nassau Stakes, and with all of her rivals in this year’s Pretty Polly being four-year-olds, the form will not be represented.

Other Group 1 races
Two winners of the Irish Oaks since 1996 have competed in a different Group 1 on their previous start, with neither taking home the first prize.

In 2013, Chicquita finished second in the Prix de Diane at Chantilly behind the talented Treve for trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, before beating three Coolmore runners in the Irish Oaks and subsequently being purchased by the powerhouse operation.

Chicquita: landed the Irish Oaks last year

Chicquita under Jockey Johnny Murtagh winning in 2013

  PICTURE: Alain Barr (  

Winona finished third in the Coronation Stakes at Ascot over a mile in 1998 under Johnny Murtagh. The substantial increase in distance suited the filly as she powered clear to win by an astonishing seven lengths.

With Ballydoyle being taken out at the 48-hour declaration stage due to her exertions in America, there are no runners that fall into this category this year.

Other Group races
In recent seasons, fillies who have landed a Group 2 or Group 3 before stepping up in class for the Irish Oaks have not done overly well, with just four of the last 20 winners following such a route.

The most recent of these was Bracelet in 2014 who had previously landed the Group 2 Ribblesdale at Ascot, the exact same route as this year’s favourite Even Song, with both trained by Aidan O’Brien.

Great Heavens destroyed the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks field in 2012 by five lengths under Robert Havlin, before winning the Oaks by an equally impressive three lengths 15 days later.

Shawanda won in 2005 after being solely campaigned in France, with her previous start coming in the Group 3 Prix de Royaumont. Vintage Tipple is the anomaly, as she failed to win the Group 3 Athasi Stakes under Jamie Spencer, but was given a three-month break and caused a shock at 12-1 in the Classic.

Vintage Tipple - 2003 Irish Oaks

Vintage Tipple – 2003 Irish Oaks

  PICTURE: Getty Images  

Five horses entered this season are stepping up in class from a Group 2 or Group 3 to race. Ajman Princess, Architecture, Even Song, Pretty Perfect and We Are Ninety. Both Ajman Princess and Architecture were supplemented for the race at the five-day stage.

The Ribblesdale form looks very strong, and the top three in the betting fall into this category: *****

Non-Group races
Only two previous winners of the Irish Oaks won a Listed or handicap on their prior start, including last year’s winner Covert Love.

The other heroine that coped with the class rise was Lailani, who was successful in 2001 after previously landing the Vodafone Handicap. Just like Covert Love, she won off a mark of 92 before the Irish Oaks.

Covert Love - Darley Irish Oaks

Covert Love (Pat Smullen) wins the Darley Irish Oaks

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (  

Three horses are coming straight from a handicap or Listed race: An Cailin Orga (Ragusa Handicap), Red Stars (Lenebane Listed Stakes),  and Way To My Heart (Summer Ladies Day Handicap).

Although the step up in class has been proven possible, this year’s renewal looks especially tough: *

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