04/21/2006 12:00AM

Ouija Board, Irridescence major QEII players


Two females, Ouija Board and Irridescence, loom large in the $1.8 million Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Sunday at Sha Tin, where local hopes Viva Pataca and Russian Pearl have drawn unfortunately wide in the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 contest.

Ouija Board, outpaced late when she finished second to Intercon-tinental in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, and again last month by Heart's Cry in the Dubai Sheema Classic, was victorious in her most recent venture to Sha Tin, when she beat males in the Hong Kong Vase on Dec. 11. That, however, was at 1 1/2 miles, a distance even trainer Ed Dunlop admits she prefers to that of the QEII. Frankie Dettori flies in from England for the ride as regular rider Kieren Fallon is otherwise occupied by Aidan O'Brien at Longchamp.

Irridescence was scratched before the Dubai Duty Free after she nearly impaled herself on the paddock rail at Nad Al Sheba. A Group 1 winner in South Africa at 1 3/8 miles and a Group 2 winner there at the QEII Cup distance, Irridescence, trained by Mike de Kock, took the listed 1 1/8-mile Balanchine Stakes in her Team Valor debut in Dubai on Feb. 24 and could be something special.

The Hong Kong Derby winner Viva Pataca is attempting to follow in the footsteps of Vengeance of Rain by doubling up in the QEII, but has drawn post 12 in the 13-runner field, while Russian Pearl is stuck in 13.

Carlotamix heads French classic preps

Carlotamix is the headline attraction in France on Sunday when Longchamp conducts one-mile course-and-distance preps for its classic Guineas, the Poule d'Essai des Poulains for colts and the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches for fillies.

Trained by Andre Fabre, the undefeated Carlotamix goes in the Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau off a big three-length score in the Group 1 Criterium International last Oct. 30 when he beat Stormy River and Porto Santo into second and third. Those two try him again on Sunday, but if Carlotamix and his rider Christophe Soumillon have anything to fear, it could come from either of Aidan O'Brien's entries, juvenile Group 3 winners Aussie Rules and Ivan Denisovich.

In the Group 3 Prix de la Grotte for fillies, Fabre saddles his recent listed winner On a Cloud, while O'Brien counters with Queen Cleopatra. But they will have their hands full with Quiet Royal, a Criquette Head-Maarek-trained daughter of Royal Academy who was second to European juvenile filly champ Rumplestiltskin in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac before taking the Group 3 Prix Miesque on Nov. 1. Olivier Peslier has the call.