Cayenne Pepper bids to provide Jessica Harrington with her second Classic success in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks at the Curragh.
While better known for her her exploits over jumps thanks to the likes of dual Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Moscow Flyer and Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John, the Moone-based trainer has become an increasingly powerful force on the Flat in recent seasons.
Two years ago Harrington made a Classic breakthrough, landing the Irish 1,000 Guineas with the brilliant filly Alpha Centauri – and she now has high hopes of adding the Irish Oaks to her glittering CV on Saturday.
A high-class juvenile last season, Cayenne Pepper made a seriously encouraging start to her three-year-old career when chasing home the top-class older mare Magical in the Pretty Polly Stakes three weeks ago.
Harrington said: “The Irish Oaks has been the aim. She had a bit of a slow spring and didn’t come to hand, but we managed to get one run into her in the Pretty Polly on Guineas weekend.
“I think she’s come on from there and I’m looking forward to running her.”
Aidan O’Brien has already won the Irish Oaks on five occasions – one short of the record set by Sir Michael Stoute.
The Ballydoyle handler launches a formidable four-pronged assault on this year’s renewal, with Ennistymon the clear form pick of the quartet after chasing home her esteemed stable companion Love in the Investec Oaks at Epsom a fortnight ago.
“We’ve been very happy with Ennistymon since her last run in Epsom. Wayne (Lordan) rides her,” said O’Brien.
“She ran a great race in Epsom, so we’re looking forward to this.”
Ennistymon is joined by Munster Oaks winner Snow (Michael Hussey), Epsom fifth Passion (Billy Lee) and Laburnum (Declan McDonogh), who was narrowly denied by the Ger Lyons-trained Even So – also in Saturday’s race – in the Naas Oaks Trial last time.
O’Brien added: “We were delighted with Laburnum the last day, she was very inexperienced going into it – a baby, really. When she won her maiden she didn’t learn much, so we felt she had to run again.
“Wayne (Lordan) rode her and he was delighted, he felt she’d have learned a lot from that day as well. She seems to have been in good form since, she’s stepping up to a mile and a half, so it will be very interesting to see what happens with her.”
Even So is joined by stable companion Yaxeni, with Joseph O’Brien’s New York Girl completing the eight-strong field.