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Santa Barbara could bid for Pretty Polly redemption

Santa Barbara may have another chance to provide a public demonstration of her potential as one of three possible contenders for Aidan O’Brien in the Group One Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh.

A lofty reputation on the Ballydoyle gallops preceded Santa Barbara as she set out to augment last season’s juvenile win at the Curragh, in two British Classic assignments over the past two months.

On each occasion, however, the daughter of Camelot finished out of the first three as less-fancied stablemates Mother Earth and Snowfall respectively won the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Oaks at Epsom.

Empress Josephine won the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Currag
Empress Josephine won the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh (Brian Lawless/PA)

She is in the reckoning to return to the Curragh on Sunday, over the intermediate trip of 10 furlongs, with Oaks third Divinely and Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Empress Josephine also bidding to extend O’Brien’s successful record in a race he has won four times in the last 10 years.

Divinely and Empress Josephine both followed their Classic exploits by finishing out of the first three over contrasting distances at Royal Ascot last week.

In potential opposition this weekend, among 13 confirmations, are five more challengers within the O’Brien family.

Aidan’s eldest son Joseph supplies four – Thundering Nights, Pretty Gorgeous, who is a Group One winner but unplaced twice at the top level this season, My Generation and Sense Of Style – while his younger brother Donnacha may be represented by Shale.

Only two trainers still stand in the way of an O’Brien winner of this year’s race.

Jessica Harrington has three possible starters in dual Group winner Cayenne Pepper, Munster Oaks runner-up Silence Please and Oodnadatta.

Willie McCreery may yet be double-handed, with three-time Group winner Epona Plays and last month’s lightly-raced Blue Wind Stakes heroine Insinuendo.

The O’Briens also dominate entries for the Group Two Comer Group International Curragh Cup

But Willie Mullins’ globe-trotting mare True Self, also still engaged in Group Three company on the previous day of the meeting, is a notable possible challenger to the likes of Pondus, Santiago and Tiger Moth.

So too is Dermot Weld’s dual Irish St Leger heroine Search For A Song, among the 18 who remain.

The 12 juvenile fillies in the Group Two Airlie Stud Stakes include Fozzy Stack’s pair Hermana Estrella and Cheerupsleepyjean.

The former beat subsequent Royal Ascot winner Quick Suzy on her sole start at Naas last month, while Cheerupsleepyjean outran big odds to be a good third to Gavin Cromwell’s Queen Mary Stakes heroine last week.

Battaash remains in Abbaye mix at latest stage

Battaash remains on course to try to regain his Prix de l’Abbaye crown against 13 potential rivals, including last year’s winner Glass Slippers.

Charlie Hills’ brilliant sprinter is also joined in the possible field for Sunday’s five-furlong Group One at ParisLongchamp by five further British challengers.

As well as Glass Slippers, who prevailed on soft ground 12 months ago when Battaash fell untypically short back in 14th of 16, Hills’ star may this time also come up against Denis Hogan’s Irish hope Make A Challenge.

The five-year-old was unable to contain Flying Five Stakes winner Glass Slippers when only fifth at the Curragh this month, but previously won four of six starts up to Group Two level this summer.

Among the home challenge in the Abbaye, after Wednesday’s forfeits but in advance of a supplementary stage which pertains for all Sunday’s Group Ones, bar the showpiece Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, is the sole two-year-old still in the reckoning, Jane Soubagne’s filly Livachope.

Air De Valse (Corine Barande-Barbe) and Wooded (Francis Graffard), first and second over course and distance this month, also fly the French flag.

The British contingent is completed by Liberty Beach and Flying Five runner-up Keep Busy, both from John Quinn’s North Yorkshire yard, James Fanshawe’s Archer’s Dream, Robert Cowell’s Rocket Action and James Bethell’s Moss Gill.

Four further Group Ones on the stellar card see Ireland remain very well-represented in the Prix de l’Opera, including the first three from the French Oaks.

Donnacha O’Brien’s Fancy Blue won by a short neck in a blanket finish at Chantilly in July, from Jessica Harrington’s Alpine Star and his father Aidan’s Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Peaceful.

Completing a possible Irish quintet over 10 furlongs is another three-year-old, O’Brien senior’s Laburnum, and Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa – following her surprise success in the Prix Vermeille.

There are three British challengers, in the shape of John Gosden’s Terebellum, Fanshawe’s long-priced Deauville Group One winner Audarya and Ralph Beckett’s long-absent Feliciana De Vega.

Leading the home contenders is Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and Jean-Claude Rouget’s unbeaten three-year-old Group One winner Tawkeel.

In the Prix de la Foret, over seven furlongs, William Haggas’ One Master currently has 14 potential rivals as she seeks a third successive victory in the race.

Three fellow British contenders could stand in her way – Quinn’s Safe Voyage, who beat One Master at York last month, and Supreme Stakes one-two, Andrew Balding’s Happy Power and Richard Fahey’s Toro Strike.

Lancaster House and Lope Y Fernandez may travel for O’Brien, while his son Joseph has Speak In Colours.

Andre Fabre’s three-year-olds Earthlight and Tropbeau are principal French hopes.

Clive Cox’s Nando Parrado is one of nine juveniles left in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.

The shock Coventry Stakes winner, runner-up in the Prix Morny since, may face fellow British hopes Megallan, for Gosden, and Mick Channon’s Cairn Gorm.

St Mark’s Basilica and Wembley could represent O’Brien, while Ken Condon’s Laws Of Indices is another possible from Ireland.

The three-strong home team comprises Xaario, Sealiway and Selket.

There are still 19 two-year-old fillies in the Prix Marcel Boussac – including Fahey’s Deauville Group Two winner Fev Rover as one of four possible British runners.

The others are Mark Johnston’s Dubai Fountain, the Hills-trained Prado and Lilac Road, from Haggas’ Newmarket yard.

Group Three winners Divinely and Mother Earth may represent O’Brien, whose son Joseph still has Moyglare Stud Stakes runner-up Pretty Gorgeous in the reckoning. Condon’s Thunder Beauty may also travel from Ireland.