Curvy faces stiff test in Oaks

David Wachman believes Curvy will have to step up again if she is to supplement her Royal Ascot success in the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh today.

Curvy faces stiff test in Oaks

Although showing little in three outings last season, the Galileo filly has made massive strides this term in winning each of her four starts.

Having accelerated through the handicap ranks, Curvy made an instant impact when switched to Pattern company, winning the Gallinule Stakes before stepping up to 12 furlongs for the first time to add the Ribblesdale at Ascot to her haul.

While that victory marks her down as a major player on her first venture into Group One company, Wachman is under no illusions as to the task his charge is facing.

He said: “Curvy seems well and we are very happy with her so we decided to take our chance in this. She is a very straightforward filly who we have had no problems with.

“She has been improving from run to run and she will need to step up again if she is to win as she is going from Group Two to Group One level.

“I am not worried about the ground for her as she has run on fast ground, good ground and slow ground, so she seems to handle anything.

“As for the trip, she won the Ribblesdale well but she has also won well over a mile and a quarter, so she seems pretty adaptable.”

Jessica Harrington expects the flatter track at the Curragh to suit Jack Naylor much better than the undulations of Epsom.

After finishing a solid fourth in the Irish 1000 Guineas on her seasonal return, the daughter of Champs Elysees took her chance in the Investec Oaks but could finish only sixth behind the reopposing Qualify.

Harrington said: “She has had a nice break since the Oaks as the Irish Guineas and English Oaks came quickly one after the other.

“She is not the biggest horse and when you watch the replay, she got bumped in the straight and just become unbalanced. The track at the Curragh will suit her better and she has won well there before, while we are hoping for a little bit of rain.

“We are very happy with her and she seems to be in good form and we are hoping for the best.”

Covert Love is unbeaten in three starts so far this season but faces a steep rise in grade after winning the Listed Hoppings Stakes at Newcastle last time.

However, her trainer Hugo Palmer feels the experience she gained in beating older horses in that race could prove valuable back against her own age group.

The Newmarket handler said: “She’s done absolutely nothing wrong this year apart from blow the start in her maiden when the poor thing had to come from last of 14 and weave her way through to win going well. She’s just improved and improved since then.

“It’s a massive step up. It wasn’t the intention to boss the race at Newcastle, it was just what happened and the second horse was rated 110 so we weren’t bossing moderate horses.

“We took on older horses and the majority in the Irish Oaks have only beaten their own generation, so it might make us a bit more battle hardened.

“William Buick after her maiden, Martin Harley at York and Graham Gibbons last time all said she’s a mile-and-a-half filly all day long – the further she goes the better she feels, but you never know.

“She looks like a mile-and-a-half horse.”

James Fanshawe expects the step up to 12 furlongs to pose no problems for the hat-trick seeking Speedy Boarding.

After opening her account in a maiden at Goodwood on her seasonal bow, the three-year old successfully followed up on her first try at Listed level when landing the Ballymacoll Stud Stakes at Newbury last month.

Fanshawe said: “As she has a lovely long stride, it’s a middle-distance sort of action.

“Her sister, Miss Dashwood, stayed a mile and a half well and her dam, Dash To The Front, won the Warwick Oaks over an extended one-mile-three (furlongs) so I’m fairly confident she’ll stay the trip actually.

“She’s a filly I’ve always liked. She took an awful long time to come in her coat this spring but she won her maiden OK at Goodwood.

“She had been going so nicely I thought we’d let her take her chance in the Ballymacoll because as it’s between Ascot and Epsom, it often cuts up.

“She’s a filly that has taken a long time to look really well. She’s looking better all the time and we supplemented her at the second stage for the Irish Oaks before she ran in her maiden, so it’s something we’ve been thinking about all spring because she looks a nice filly.

“She’s not the finished article yet, but she goes nicely.”

Aidan O’Brien, trainer of last year’s winner Bracelet, will be represented by Epsom winner Qualify, the unbeaten Words, Together Forever and Kissed By Angels as he chases a fifth victory in the race.

The Jim Bolger-trained Stellar Glow and John Gosden’s Gretchen also take their chances.

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