Shawanda enters Arc picture after Oaks romp

THE decision by the Aga Khan to suppplement Shawanda at a cost of €40,000 paid handsome dividends when the Alain de Royer-Dupre trained filly totally outclassed her rivals to win the Darley Irish Oaks by a whopping five lengths at the Curragh yesterday.

This was mighty impressive, because Christophe Soumillon only had to let out an inch of rein and the race was over as a contest to give the French their first success in this race in twelve years.

“Yes, I expected this, she is a filly with a lot of class”, commented de Royer-Dupre, saddling his first winner in Ireland, matter of factly.

The York winner Thakafaat carried them along, closely pursued by Chelsea Rose. The pair tried to break free early in the straight, but were quickly facing insurmountable odds.

Soumillon eased to the front about two furlongs down and Shawanda powered clear in a couple of strides.

Playful Act was soon giving chase, but never looked like cutting into the winner’s huge advantage.

To her credit, Playful Act boxed on well to hold second place, with Mona Lisa getting the better of Right Key for third.

Dash To The Top started favourite, but was beaten even before they left the stalls. She had to be walked down the start and was never travelling.

Pictavia, fancied to be best of the Irish and who, reportedly, didn’t handle Epsom when third in the English equivalent, ran no race, trailing in nearer last than first. She was subsequently found to be slightly lame.

Hazariya, who suffered a stone bruise on the lead-in to the race, was pulled up heading to the straight. She was due to be X-rayed to assess the damage.

Said de Royer-Dupre: “This filly has a good mind and gets that from her father, Sinndar. Travelling is always difficult and I was a little bit worried about that. We don’t travel far at home and she had never been away.

“She will probably go for the Prix Vermeille now and we will have to consider the ‘Arc.”

Cashmans gave Shawanda a quote of 10-1 for the ‘Arc.

De Royer-Dupre has been associated with the Aga Khan for 23 years and trains 80 horses for him.

Said Soumillon: “I have never won a Group One so easily. She was still on the bridle going to the line and would have won by ten lengths if I hit her.”

Jimmy Fortune was thrilled with Playful Act. “She has run a blinder, but the winner was in a different league”, reported Fortune.

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