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Juddmonte Irish Oaks predictions: Emily Upjohn's withdrawal opens up field
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Enda McElhinney
Spotlight
Emily Upjohn will play no part in Saturday's feature race at the Curragh due to travel complications
Emily Upjohn will play no part in Saturday's feature race at the Curragh due to travel complications

Classic action comes from Ireland on Saturday afternoon with the Juddmonte Irish Oaks taking centre stage at the Curragh.

The big race goes to post at 3.45pm and carries a top prize of £246,000 for the winner.

After the late defection of Epsom bridesmaid Emily Upjohn on Friday afternoon, a field of seven is left to scrap it out for this major prize — all of them trained in Ireland.

Flight problems deny Emily Upjohn

Narrowly denied after a nightmare start at Epsom last month, Emily Upjohn was seeking Oaks redemption for John and Thady Gosden with Frankie Dettori on board.

It has been a summer of turmoil for the Clarehaven team with a high-profile 'sabbatical' for Dettori proving very short-lived. 

The reunion suffered a major gut-punch at Newmarket last week when Inspiral was turned over in the Falmouth Stakes.

That turmoil continued in bizarre circumstances as news broke that this filly would miss this race after her plane could not take off from Stansted Airport on Friday afternoon.

O'Brien's three-pronged challenge

Aidan O'Brien still has three runners in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks, despite withdrawing Tuesday
Aidan O'Brien still has three runners in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks, despite withdrawing Tuesday

Aidan O'Brien's six Irish Oaks wins sees him tied with Sir Michael Stoute but the Ballydoyle handler is missing his trump card Tuesday here.

Instead, he runs History, Emily Dickinson and Toy — the last-named being the mount of Ryan Moore. She was beaten off in the French Oaks last month and has twice come up well shy in Group 1 company.

A big step forward is needed from all three, with the best form perhaps held by History based on last month's Ribblesdale third at Royal Ascot over this trip.

Of course, it is always a risk to dismiss the Ballydoyle team, especially when they hold three of the seven contenders and could dominate the race in a tactical sense.

Magical could pull of a trick

Perhaps Magical Lagoon for Jessica Harrington and Shane Foley will be the one to land this Classic. 

Connections will have been licking their lips when news filtered through that Emily Upjohn was grounded over at Stansted.

The Galileo filly produced a career-best in the Ribblesdale just over four weeks ago. 

She got to the front quickly enough, but a real challenge was thrown down by William Haggas' Sea Silk Road and it looked for all the world as though the eventual second would sweep by on her outside to claim the prize.

Magical Lagoon had other ideas, redoubling her effort and surging back to win by a half-length. 

Given that she was one of the first off the bridle, it was no mean effort and she held off a good filly. There is surely more to come from her.

Verdict

With Emily Upjohn out of the picture, the improving MAGICAL LAGOON has an excellent chance to add a Group 1 to last month's Royal Ascot score. She should prove a tough nut to crack.

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