Jessica Harrington: Jack Naylor can go close in Yorkshire Oaks

Jessica Harrington’s Jack Naylor was a staying on second at the end of the Irish Oaks at the Curragh last time out, and revenge could be firmly on her mind as she prepares to unleash her filly in the Yorkshire Oaks.

The Group 1 winning trainer told Ladbrokes News that “everything has gone to plan” for the 6/1 shot in preparation for the race and that she is “very happy” with the daughter of Champs Elysees.

A defeat of subsequent 1,000 Guineas heroine Legatissimo was in hindsight one of the highlights of a juvenile campaign that also took in the Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes.

This year though, things have been tougher, with the filly unable to get her head in front in some of the best contests around.

And after seeing her three-year-old beaten by 1 1/2l at the Curragh last time out, Harrington is under no illusions as to which filly is Jack Naylor’s most dangerous competition this week at York, but is obviously cautious of a couple of other challengers.

“The filly that beat her at the Curragh [Covert Love] the last time is obviously the biggest danger. She might have got first run on Jack Naylor there, but I’m hopeful she can at least get closer.

“I don’t think there is a lot between Jack Naylor and the other three-year-olds, in particular Covert Love and Curvy. If Jim Bolger’s filly [Pleascach] can get back to her Guineas form she could be in the mix as well.”

Having raced solely on good ground this season, her handler is looking forward to some precipitation hitting the Knavesmire before they go to post for the 1m4f contest.

“Hopefully there will be a little bit of rain over there. It’s not so much of soft ground bringing out more, but more I wouldn’t want to run her on very firm ground”.

Horses aged four and above have made up 40 per cent of the runners in the race in the past decade, but this year only sees two of the 11 come from outside the Classic generation, and Harrington can see why.

“It could certainly be an indication of the strength of the three-year-olds that there are only two older horses entered. They seem to be a very strong lot this year.”

Any future engagements remain fluid for Jack Naylor regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s race, but a tilt at the Arc should she triumph at York has not been ruled out.

“The plan is for tomorrow and after that she will be in various races. She’s in the QIPCO Fillies and Mares race at Ascot [on Champions Day], she’s been invited to run in Japan, so there are various places we can go with her”.

“As for the Arc, you never know, we’d have to see.”


The County Kildare-based handler also gave Ladbrokes News an update on two other black type-chasing horses in her yard in the shape of Bocca Baciata and Rockaway Valley.

The former got stuck behind a wall of horses at Royal Ascot in the Tercentenary Stakes, but put in a solid performance when staying on strongly to claim second in the Kilboy Estate Stakes at the Curragh.

The Irish Guineas fifth could have been a candidate for a step up in trip but it appears that is not to be the case.

“We’ll stay at 1m1f in Dance Design Fillies Stakes. We’d just really like to get her a Group win. After that she is in the Blandford Stakes and then her ultimate aim is the Prix de l’Opera on Arc weekend.”

Rockaway Valley was a rather disappointing fifth in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes behind Air Force Blue last time out, but all hope is not lost with the son of Holy Roman Emperor.

“We’re not sure he quite ran his race at the Curragh. But we are going to drop him down into a Group 3 on Saturday week at the Curragh. Then we’ll see, he’s got various other entries, and we will see about going back up in class”.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.