James Doyle excited to ride 'feisty' Sea Of Class in Irish Oaks
James Doyle quashed any stamina doubts about Darley Irish Oaks contender Sea Of Class and could hardly contain his excitement about getting back on board the "feisty" daughter of Sea The Stars on Saturday.
Trainer William Haggas is pitching Sea Of Class into Group 1 company off the back of two impressive Listed performances over 1m2f at Newbury and Doyle is confident she will stay the extra distance, despite the filly showing attitude when swishing her tail in the closing stages last time out.
"She's a character," said Doyle. "She did it on her first start, she didn't do it on her second start and then did it again last time. She's feisty – some take it as a bad sign – but she wasn't slowing down at the finish.
"On pedigree she should see it out. On her second and third starts she galloped right through the line. She's a well balanced, strong traveller and she's light on her feet."
The Curragh has been a lucky track for Doyle during his career with many of the jockey's biggest wins coming at the track, including three consecutive wins in the Tattersalls Gold Cup from 2013 to 2015, the 2013 Moyglare Stakes the 2014 Irish 2,000 Guineas.
While Sea Of Class has yet to prove herself in the same league as the likes of Kingman and Al Kazeem, Doyle is hopeful she has improved from her last start and can handle the jump into Classic company.
"She's done really well," said Doyle. "In her first Listed race she was still a maiden having finished second in her first start and she showed a nice turn of foot.
"Athena finished second and she's since come out and won the Belmont Oaks so that looks good form. I thought she progressed again last time out, but I'm not sure she had to improve to beat that field, it was more about gauging her well-being."
He added: "I haven't sat on her since but she did a decent piece of work the other day and as far as I know the vibes have been positive."
Haggas won the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh with Urban Fox this month but, unlike Doyle, hasn't always had the rub of the green at Ireland's premier track.
The trainer said: "Before Urban Fox won my record at the track hadn't been great but I'm looking forward to it. It's a Classic race and it's great to be involved with."
Of Sea Of Class's chances on Saturday, where she looks likely to face Ribblesdale Stakes winner Magic Wand, he said: "I've been very happy with her.
"I don't see the trip being an issue, there's lots of stamina in her family, she's by Sea The Stars and her dam is by Hernando."
Sea Of Class was as short as 6-1 for the Investec Oaks at Epsom but bypassed that objective after much deliberation from Haggas.
He said: "She's a very late foal. She came to the party late in life and I didn't want to do too much too soon with her.
"I came around to the idea of running her at Epsom because I thought 'there's only one of these things', but then the rain came and she's a top of the ground horse so that made the decision for us."
The Irish Oaks takes place at 5.30 on Saturday and Sea Of Class, who is generally a 5-2 shot, will be bidding to emulate champion filly Enable, who galloped to a bloodless victory last year before winning the King George, Yorkshire Oaks and Arc.
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