Fran Berry and the rest of our racing team nominate five horses to follow at the Curragh on Irish Oaks Weekend.
ICE COLD IN ALEX - Tote Scurry Handicap (15.25 Sat)
The Tote Scurry Handicap would normally be all about English sprinters but one I like down the bottom of weights is Ice Cold In Alex, trained by Ken Condon. He gets in off 8-5 and with a kind draw, should go really well. He's a hold-up-horse who was very unlucky when second over 7f back at the Curragh on Derby weekend and he's a past course winner over that trip. A strongly-run extended 6f on Saturday should suit him well and he might be a touch of value on the day.
FREE SOLO – evoke.ie Irish EBF Maiden (14.15 Sat)
Jessica Harrington’s juveniles have been in outstanding form this season. She’s won 13 two-year-old races from 46 runners on turf at 28 per cent to a healthy +€21.59 profit to €1 level stakes. Those are some numbers and she could improve them in the Curragh opener on Saturday – the evoke.ie Irish EBF Maiden - as Free Solo could well make the most of his sole start. The Showcasing colt was third at Naas on debut behind Year Of The Tiger, not knocked about but running on nicely, and that experience could be key against a sea of newcomers.
PINK DOGWOOD - Kerrygold Irish Oaks (17.10 Sat)
The feeling straight after the Investec Oaks was that Pink Dogwood would emerge, somewhere down the line, as the best filly in the race. After all she showed a smart turn of foot to seemingly settle matters at Epsom only to be cut down by Anapurna's late revival. She was a Ballydoyle project destined for Group One glory. Now she has a little bit to prove having fluffed her lines in the Pretty Polly Stakes last time. She was ridden more patiently despite being dropped in trip there and and couldn't muster the speed to challenge Iridessa. She is better than that, I'm convinced of it, and back to a mile-and-a-half can get things back on track at the weekend. As was the case with Ten Sovereigns in the July Cup, I'm backing Aidan O'Brien to have her back firing on all cylinders on the big day.
TROSSACHS - Curragh Summer Festival Handicap (17.30 Sun)
I'm hoping Trossachs will be worth the wait if he lines up in the concluding race of the two-day meeting on Sunday. Jim Bolger has been a fantastic trainer over the years, one of the best on either side of the Irish Sea, but he has been searching for that star performer over the last year or so. In Trossachs, he might just have found him. The Godolphin-owned son of the former Bolger-trained New Approach has really come to himself in the last six weeks, racking up three wins on the bounce in the manner of a thoroughly progressive stayer. The three-year-old was impressive when routing a fair field at Leopardstown last time and although bumped up 12lb for that success, he has untapped potential going up to 2m for the first time and a couple of Group Three entries later in the season would suggest he could still be well treated off 98.
SOUL SEARCH - Jebel Ali Racecourse And Stables Anglesey Stakes (16.00 Sat)
It is fascinating to see once-raced maiden Soul Search amongst the entries for Saturday's Anglesey Stakes, a race that has, historically, been very strong and is often dominated by Aidan O'Brien. However, Ger Lyons certainly knows the time of day and is currently overseeing the progress of another strong team of juveniles, headed by the unbeaten Siskin. Soul Search, a well-bred daughter of Zoffany, made a debut full of promise when just touched off by the more experienced Love at Leopardstown earlier in the month, hinting at a very bright future indeed. The fact Lyons is eyeing up this race as oppose to sticking to maiden company would suggest her Moyglare entry is more than just wishful thinking.