Irish Oaks Festival: Race List & Meeting Info

Last month was the Epsom Oaks and now it’s time for another top class one and a half mile contest for three-year-old fillies. The Group 1 race is one of the Curragh’s most highly prized races and it will help draw a large crowd into the County Kildare venue.

While not quite as lucrative as the Epsom equivalent, there is still a very large purse of €400,000 up for grabs in this Irish Classic. Plenty of prize money over the years has gone to Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor, owners of five of the last 11 winners.

 

Day One Races - Ladies' Day

RaceGradeLengthPrize MoneyAges
Irish EBF Maiden   7f €11,820 2YO only
Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Handicap 1m   1m €17,700 3YO plus
Tote Scurry Handicap   6f 63y €73,750 3YO plus
Jebel Ali Racecourse And Stables Anglesey Stakes Group 3 6f 63y €38,350 2YO only
Paddy Power Minstrel Stakes Group 2 7f €70,800 3YO plus
Kerrygold Irish Oaks Group 1 1m 4f €228,000 3YO only
Kildare Village Ladies Derby Handicap   1m 4f €17,700 4YO plus
Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden   1m €11,820 3YO plus

Irish EBF Maiden

7f

Run in association with Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders’ Fund, this event for maidens takes place over seven furlongs and tends to last just shy of a minute and a half if the Going is Good to Soft. Open to two-year-olds, the prize money for the winner sits at about €17,000. The race is for colts and geldings.

Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Handicap 1m

1m

The first race of the day is for colts and geldings so the second is limited to fillies and mares. This time they can be three or over and will have to run a mile to get their hands on the €30,000 in prize money. It’s also run in association with the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders’ Fund and lasts for more than a minute and a half on Good ground.

Tote Scurry Handicap

6f 63y

The Tote Scurry Premier Handicap is a race that is run over six furlongs and sixty-three yards. Open to horses aged three and over, it boasts an impressive prize amount of €125,000 for the winning horse. When the Going is Good to Firm you can expect the leaders to hit the finish line after about a minute and fifteen seconds, give or take.

Jebel Ali Racecourse And Stables Anglesey Stakes

Group 3, 6f 63y

Currently known as the Jebel Ali Racecourse And Stables Anglesey Stakes because of sponsorship, the race was established in 1829 when it was run over six furlongs. It was moved to being over six furlongs and sixty-three yards in 1897 and has remained at that length ever since. Open to two-year-olds and run on the straight, the following weight information is in play:

  • Weight: 9 stone 3 pounds
  • Fillies receive a 3 pound allowance
  • Group 2 race winners get a penalty of 5 pounds
  • Group 3 race winners get a penalty of 3 pounds

In 1948 the race became known by the title of the Anglesey Plate, reverting to its current title ten years later. It's been a Group 3 offering since 1971 and was previously held during August or September before shifting to be part of the Irish Oaks Festival in July in 1997.

Obviously no horse has won it more than once, with it being limited to two-year-olds, but Michael Kinane won it five times as a jockey between 1993 and 2003. Anyone who knows anything about Irish raving will be entirely unsurprised to see the name of Vincent O'Brien at the top of the leaderboard for wins as a trainer, seeing a horse he'd work with victorious in this one thirteen times from 1962 to 1987.

Paddy Power Minstrel Stakes

Group 2, 7f

Currently sponsored by Paddy Power and having enjoyed numerous sponsors over the years, the Minstrel Stakes is named in honour of The Minstrel, who was an Irish-trained horse that was very successful during the 1970s. The history of the race shows that it used to be significantly different, being run at Phoenix Park in April or May and run over one mile by three-year-olds.

Back then the race was Listed, but changes were afoot at the start of the 1990s. To begin with it was moved from Phoenix Park to the Curragh in 1991, which was also when it started to be run in July. The move to the Curragh also saw the race opened to older horses for the first time. Still the changes to the race weren't complete, however. It was made a Group 3 offering in 1996 and had its length cut to seven furlongs five years later.

In 2002 the race had a minimum age of four attached to it, with the race lowering back down to be open to three-year-olds in 2007. Nine years after that and it saw its level improve once more, becoming a Group 2 race in 2016.

Ramooz and Gordon Lord Byron have both won the race twice, whilst Michael Kinane is the most successful jockey thanks to his five wins. Aidan O'Brien, meanwhile, followed in his father's footsteps and began winning races at the Curragh early doors. He sits at the top of the list of most successful trainers with five wins between 1994 and 2017.

Open to horses aged three and over, the race us run on a right-hand elbow over seven furlongs and has the following weight information in play:

  • 3-year-olds: 9 stone 1 pound
  • 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 8 pounds
  • Fillies and mares get an allowance of 3 pounds
  • Group 1 race winners receive a penalty of 3 pounds

Kerrygold Irish Oaks

Group 1, 1m 4f

All told, there's no question that The Irish Oaks is the main race of the weekend Festival. It's the one that everyone is interested in, so it's only right for us to take a proper look at it. It was run for the first time in 1895, at which point it was run over one mile. It didn't change to its current length of one mile and four furlongs until 1915.

Run right-handed, it is a race for three-year-old fillies with a weight of nine stone. As you'd expect, it is Ireland's equivalent of The Oaks that takes place at Epsom every year. It gained respect within the horse racing industry in 1948 when Massaka became the first horse to win both versions of the race.

As you might expect, numerous different horses have repeated the trick of winning both versions of The Oaks, including Enable who did so in 2017. Horses that do well in The Irish Oaks often go on to take part in The Yorkshire Oaks later in the season. Blue Bunting is an example of such a horse, winning both races during the summer of 2011.

Between 1997 and 2013 Johnny Murtagh won the race six times, making him its most successful jockey. He has the same number of wins to his name as Sir Michael Stoute managed between 1978 and 2000, which sees him labelled as the most successful trainer to send horses to take part in the race.

Kildare Village Ladies Derby Handicap

1m 4f

’After the Lord Mayor’s Show’ is the phrase some might associate with this race, given that it comes immediately after the Irish Oaks that is the centre of attention of the Festival. Nevertheless, the four-year-old and over horses that take part in it will run the one mile and four furlongs at some pace to win the €30,000 in prize money the winner takes home.

Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden

1m

The Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders’ Fund get involved in sponsorship duties once again for the final race of Day One of the Festival. It’s a race that is run over one mile and is limited to fillies and mares aged three and over and it boasts a winning prize of €20,000. If the Going is Good then the race can be expected to last for about a minute and forty seconds.

 

Day Two Races - Sunday

RaceGradeLengthPrize MoneyAges
Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden   6f €10,343 2YO only
Killashee Hotel Nursery Handicap   6f €10,343 2YO only
Friarstown Stud Sapphire Stakes Group 2 5f €70,900 3YO plus
Kilboy Estate Stakes Group 2 1m 1f €67,850 3YO plus
Ticket Offers At Curragh.ie Handicap   6f 63y €6,501 3YO plus
Irish Injured Jockeys Fund Maiden   1m 4f €7,683 3YO plus
Curragh Summer Festival Handicap   2m €14,750 3YO plus
Corinthian Challenge Charity Race Series   1m 4f €1 3YO plus

Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden

6f

Day Two of the Irish Oaks Festival gets underway in the same manner as Day One ended: with a race for fillies that is run in association with the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders’ Fund. It’s for maiden horses aged two and is run over six furlongs, offering a prize amount of €17,500 for the winning horse. Timing wise, it will last for about a minute and fifteen on Good turf.

Killashee Hotel Nursery Handicap

6f

A nursery race for two-year-olds, this event is run in association with Killashee Hotel at the time of writing. It’s run over six furlongs and you can expect to see the leaders at the finish line after about a minute and fifteen seconds if the Going is Good. They’re racing to win the prize money of €17,500 that the winner gets to take home with them.

Friarstown Stud Sapphire Stakes

Group 2, 5f

Established as a Listed race in 2001, the Sapphire Stakes was registered as the Richard H. Faught Memorial Stakes until it took on its current moniker in 2008. That was also the year in which it was promoted to Group 3, gaining a further promotion to Group 2 in 2015 and it has remained there ever since.

When it was created the Sapphire Stakes took place during the Irish Derby Festival earlier in the year, but it was moved to be part of the same meeting as The Oaks in 2015. Run on the straight over five furlongs and open to horses aged three and over, the race has the following weight information attached to it:

  • 3-year-olds: 9 stone 3 pounds
  • 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 7 pounds
  • Fillies and mares receive a 3 pound allowance
  • Group 1 winners are given a penalty of 3 pounds

Despite being a relatively young race, it is one in which a horse has won it more than once. That horses was Benbaun, who won it in 2005 and then, somewhat remarkably for a flat race, did so again four years later. One of those wins was with Kieren Fallon in the saddle, whilst the other had Pat Smullen riding and both of them have won the race twice. Pat Shanahan Is also in the books as having more than one win, though Johnny Murtagh outshines them all with his three wins.

It's difficult to remember the last race that we wrote about that didn't have either Vincent O'Brien or Aidan O'Brien on the list as being the race's most successful trainer, but this is one of them. Michael Halford and Roger Charlton share the honour with two wins apiece, none of which were with Benbaun who had different trainers for the two wins.

Kilboy Estate Stakes

Group 2, 1m 1f

Run right-handed over one mile and one furlong and open to fillies and mares aged three and over, Group 1 winners are excluded from taking part in this Group 2 flat race. It takes its name from the Kilboy Estate stud farm in Dolla, which has been sponsoring the event since it was established in 2004.

It was a Listed race until 2011 when it was moved to Group 3, gaining its current status two years after that. Here's the weight information for it:

  • 3-year-olds: 9 stone
  • 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 9 pounds
  • Group 2 race winners receive a penalty of 3 pounds

No horse has yet won it more than once, though Ryan Moore certainly has as a jockey. Between 2010 and 2018 he won it four times. One of those wins was on Magical, which was trained by Aidan O'Brien and it is he and David Watchman that share the title of most successful trainer in the event thanks to their three wins apiece at the time of writing.

Ticket Offers At Curragh.ie Handicap

6f 63y

It’s only right that the racecourse gets to advertise its own wares when it wants to, with this race taking sponsorship from the course’s website. It’s a handicap event that is open to horses aged three and over that have a rating of between 45 and 75. The handicappers will use those ratings to decide how much weight each horse needs to carry around the six furlongs and sixty-three yards of the course.

Irish Injured Jockeys Fund Maiden

1m 4f

Money from this event goes towards the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund, which makes it a race with an entirely admirable cause. It’s run over one mile and four furlongs, taking about two and a half minutes to be completed when the Going is Good. It’s open to horses aged three and over and the prize money at the end of it is €13,000 for the winner.

Curragh Summer Festival Handicap

2m

The final race of the Irish Oaks Festival is one that advertises the next big meeting on the racecourse’s list: the Curragh Summer Festival. This event is run over two miles and is for horses aged three and over. The winner gets to take home €25,000 at the time of writing. In previous years when the Going has been Good, the race has lasted for about three and a half minutes.

Corinthian Challenge Charity Race Series

1m 4f

The Corinthian Challenge Charity Race Series is exactly what it sounds like, being a charity race that is held after the meeting’s final race proper. Run over one mile and four furlongs, the event takes about two minutes and forty-five seconds to be completed when the Going is Good to Firm. The event is open to horses aged three and over.

 

About the Irish Oaks Festival

Curragh Racecourse

The Curragh boasts some of the biggest flat racing meetings in Ireland, including The Irish Derby and The Irish St Leger. It's perhaps no surprise, therefore, that it also gets to host Ireland's equivalent to The Oaks, which usually takes place a couple of weeks after their version of The Derby. As with that other version of the English Classic, the main race takes centre stage but is by no means the only race during the course of the Festival that you're going to want to watch.

Coming as it does in July, the Irish Oaks Festival is a perfect opportunity to sit and watch some brilliant racing in lovely weather. It is Ireland, of course, so the weather is never guaranteed, but the chances are that the sun will be shining and the Guinness will be flowing. That's all part of the ephemera of the Festival, but it's what's taking place on the track that is most attention grabbing. The meeting lasts for two days and boasts some excellent races that we'll tell you about here.