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July 11, 2011

Pathfork set to run in Group 3 Minstrel Stakes, Sat July 16th

The Curragh Darley Irish Oaks weekend at the Curragh starts this Saturday at 2.10pm with a competitive seven race programme featuring the Minstrel Stakes. The Group 3 contest has attracted an exciting line-up which includes the return to the track of one of last year’s leading European 2 year olds Pathfork trained by Jessica Harrington, together with recent Fairyhouse winner Rose Bonheur, the Aidan O’Brien trained Oracle and the hat-trick seeking and much improved Emulous


Pathfork was unbeaten in three races as a juvenile and ended the term with victory in the Group One National Stakes. The son of Distorted Humor reappeared in the Newmarket 2,000 Guineas in April, but he proved to be a major disappointment to his followers when trailing home seventh behind Frankel. He has not been seen on a racecourse since that day and his return to action is eagerly awaited.


Emulous was quite impressive when landing a Group Three event over a mile here in May and the Dermot Weld-trained colt followed up at the same level when scoring at Fairyhouse last month. She is clearly on the upgrade and is well capable of landing her three-timer.


Aidan O’Brien has left both Oracle and So Stylish in the race for which there are 17 horses remaining. While Oracle has had a few runs already this year, the lightly raced So Stylish is set to make her seasonal debut on Saturday and looks the pick of the Ballydoyle pair. Six Of Hearts provided his trainer Cecil Ross with an emotional success when coming late and fast to win a premier handicap here on Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby day and a quick follow up is far from ruled out.


The Cheka is the sole British-trained raider. Eve Johnson Houghton’s five-year-old has been in sparkling form this season and is likely to be among the market leaders. Zabarajad and Alanza are two interesting runners from the John Oxx stable, while Snaefell and Across The Rhine are two other horses worth a mention.


Saturday is Lifetime In Racing Achievement Race Day with races named to honour people who have made a significant contribution to various sectors of the horse racing industry. These include Irish Trainers Association: Liam Browne; Irish Jockeys Association: Tommy Carmody; Association of Irish Racehorse Owners: Tom Gillson; Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association: Sonia Rogers; and Irish Stable Staff Association: Joe Lynch


The Darley Irish Oaks will take centre stage on Sunday and entries for the eight race programme will be published tomorrow (July 12)  at 12noon. Sunday also features the chance to meet the stars of Celebrity Salon including Calum Best who will judge the Thalgo “Most Stylish” competitions, while there will be a variety of free entertainment for children.


Admission: Sat €15 under 25s & seniors €8; Sun €20, under 25s & seniors €10. Children are free on both days.