04/21/2006 12:00AM

Ouija Board in QEII Cup


Distaffers 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.

Coming as it does just two days after its namesake's 80th birthday, the QEII Cup could well fall to a member of Her Royal Highness's own sex. Ouija Board, outpaced late when second in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf by Intercontinental, and again last month by David Junior 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 Leopardstown.

Irridescence's second start for new owners Team Valor was postponed after she nearly impaled herself on the paddock rail at Nad Al Sheba prior to the Dubai Duty Free. A Group 1 winner in South Africa at 1 3/8 miles and a Group 2 winner there at the QEII Cup distance, the Mike de Kock trainee took the listed 1 1/8-mile Balanchine Stakes in her Team Valor debut in Dubai on Feb. 24 and could be something special.

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. French invader Laverock, dq'd from third in the French Derby, is coming off a Group 3 victory at Lyon-Parilly in October, while the always dangerous Bullish Luck is a three-time Group 1 winner at Sha Tin.