Jennifer O’Donnell will bid to follow in the footsteps of both her parents by training the winner of the Sporting Press Irish Oaks at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night. Her legendary father Matt, trained Yale Princess to win the bitch classic in 1987, while some twenty-two years later, her mother Frances won with Skywalker Queen in 2009.
On Saturday night Jennifer will be represented by Scooby Duchess in the final of the bitch classic. The brilliant daughter of Droopys Sydney has an ideal draw on the fence and can atone for defeats in both the quarter and semi-finals.
Standing in her way are five very talented performers, however. The market suggests that both Raha Mofo and Droopys Nextone are the biggest dangers to the favourite and it’s difficult to disagree. Both won their respective semi-finals in tremendous fashion and both are extremely fast.
Raha Mofo has been a revelation through the competition and would be a deserving winner but she needs to be at her very sharpest in the early yards with the early paced duo of the aforementioned Scooby Duchess and Ballymac Art on her immediate inner. She is very strong and will certainly be finishing faster than most but whether she can turn close enough has to be seen.
Droopys Nextone boats a very similar profile to Raha Mofo. Another strong running lady with fine trapping ability, she will be looking to turn close before unleashing a big finish. From a trap five draw she too will need to be at her very best.
Ballymac Miranda and Tullovin Vita complete the line-up but both would probably need plenty to fall their way to cause a shock. In short, Scooby Duchess seems likely to improve on recent displays as she comes out of her season and this could make all the difference. Expect Steve Noble’s bitch to dictate from the early yards before handing Jennifer O’Donnell a famous success.
Across the pond, Ireland’s hopes of claiming the Star Sports/ TRC English Derby remain strong despite only four of the ten remaining Irish progressing from last week’s quarter finals. The four in question are impressive quarter final winners Priceless Jet, Hello Hammond and Romeo Magico.
Understandably, Priceless Jet took many of the headlines as he broke the Towcester 500m record for the second time in his career. Flashing from traps and recording a sizzling 28.78, he proved there was life in the old dog yet.
The reward for his efforts is a tough semi final draw in the second heat. Drawn in six for the fifth time in this Derby, he has the previous track record holder Lautaro on his immediate inner in five, while his kennel companion Hello Hammond lines up in the red of one with their compatriot Kildare drawn in two.
All three Irish have strong claims but one suspects Lautaro will also get involved, potentially pushing one of the Irish runners out of the frame.
Romeo Magico is Ireland’s sole representative in the opening heat. An incredibly talented tracker with massive pace, he can be a little frustrating at times due to his inconsistency at boxes but there is no doubt, he is amongst the very best in training.
He and the unbeaten Signet Goofy dominate the betting and one of the pair should come out on top. So much will depend on whether Romeo Magico can start on terms. If doing so, he should have too much early dash for those on his flanks and this could set him up for a successful crack at the likely pace-setter Signet Goofy.
This evening’s action is dominated by the final of the Callaway Rambler @ Stud Race of Champions at Tralee. The contest will be televised live on RPGTV and it has the potential to be one of the races of the years.
It’s certainly an aptly named competition as it’s packed with some of the biggest names in the sport. The 2021 Derby, Oaks and Puppy Oaks winner Susie Sapphire is favourite to come home in front but she faces one of the toughest tests of her illustrious career.
She has already added the Easter Cup to her incredible tally earlier this year but will need to be at her brilliant best to better her rivals this evening. Explosive Boy is the standout danger to the Derby champion. The defending champion was named Dog of the Year following an incredible 2021 and he has looked as good as ever in 2022.
Importantly, he is drawn on the inside of Susie Sapphire in trap two and could really make life difficult if starting on terms. Add in the top class duo of Good Cody and Skywalker Barry, the fast starting Bockos Budsit and the powerful Loher Ron and it really is a wonderful contest.
Susie Sapphire is the one to beat, however. If she can produce one of her trademark flying starts, the Owen McKenna trained superstar can dictate throughout to cement her status as one of the very fastest to ever grace the tracks of Ireland.