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Irish Preview: Beckford progression to continue in Phoenix


We preview Sunday's Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh and expect Gordon Elliott to break Aidan O'Brien's stranglehold on the Group 1 contest.

Like many races of its ilk in Ireland, Sunday's Group 1 Phoenix Stakes has been dominated by Aidan O’Brien over the past two decades; he has saddled 15 winners since 1998, though only six were joint/top-rated. O’Brien has half of the eight-strong field for Sunday’s race, led by the Norfolk Stakes winner Sioux Nation. A big, good-bodied colt who won his maiden at Cork (by three and three quarter lengths from Yulong Warrior) in May, Sioux Nation was much improved when beating 16 rivals at Royal Ascot last time, holding on to win by half a length from Santry, but he will likely need to improve again back up in trip if he is to follow up (his Norfolk win is about 5 lb below the five year average for winning performances in this race).

The filly Actress gets 3 lb from her seven male rivals and she’s a major contender on weight-adjusted ratings. She was only sixth in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot but, after appearing to be outbattled over 5f at Tipperary in July, turned in a much improved performance to win the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes here nine days later. She is two from two at this track and is respected. Stablemates Declarationofpeace, who was last of 22 in the Windsor Castle Stakes when last seen but clearly wasn’t right (sent off the 13/8 favourite) and U S Navy Flag, runner-up in the July Stakes last time, both have a bit to find on form. It’s worth noting, though, that the latter’s sister Roly Poly kept on improving with racing/experience so a bold bid shouldn’t be discounted.

The ratings are topped by Beckford who looked Royal Ascot-bound after making a big impression when winning a 16-runner maiden at the Curragh in May by one and three quarter lengths from Red Persian, however plans for a trip across the Irish Sea were put on hold after the Bated Breath colt was sold by Nick Bradley Racing to Newtown Anner Stud Farm. Despite the form of his debut win working out well, Beckford was sent off at 11/2 for the Railway Stakes over C&D last month but took the step up in grade in his stride, supplying his jumps orientated yard with a first ever Group race success on the level and producing as good a performance as any two-year-old colt at that stage of the season (since usurped by Expert Eye, shown in table below). Open to further progress, he looks the one to beat.

Timeform best two year olds August 2017

The leading British challenger is the Tom Dascombe-trained Frozen Angel. A strong, well-made colt whose dam was a 5f winner at two, Frozen Angel won a minor event at Ascot (by three and a quarter lengths from Corinthia Knight) in May and, after finishing two and three quarter lengths fourth to Sioux Nation in the Norfolk, was a good half-length second to Unfortunately in the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte last time, only edged out close home. He should stay this 6f trip, but it does pose a new question.

The field is completed by Romanised (Ken Condon) and Helvetian (Mick Channon). Romanised, in a first-time tongue strap after eight weeks off, was found wanting for experience when two lengths seventh to Rajasinghe in the Coventry Stakes, but shaped well in the circumstances. He will stay 7f sooner rather than later, and is likely to progress further, so could run well at a price here despite having a bit to find on the figures. Helvetian was much sharper for his debut when winning an eight-runner maiden at Bath last week, but whilst he may do better still, this looks a tough ask.



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Sunday 22 October
6. BYE BYE BABY (IRE) 112p
Seamie Heffernan silk Seamie Heffernan
Aidan O'Brien, Ireland
2. KENYA (IRE) 111p
Donnacha O'Brien silk Donnacha O'Brien horse in focus
Aidan O'Brien, Ireland
Pat Smullen silk Pat Smullen
John Patrick Murtagh, Ireland
Go to Full Race



1st Dougie Costello silk 6. ARROWZONE 11/43.75f
2nd Alistair Rawlinson silk 9. COCKNEY BOY 25/126
3rd Finley Marsh silk ½ 1. FILAMENT OF GOLD (USA) 15/28.5
T: Kevin Frost  
All 13 ran.


1st David Egan silk 2. HOT MUSTARD 5/16f
2nd Barry McHugh silk ¾ 6. THE KING'S STEED 8/19
3rd P. J. McDonald silk 3 11. PENY ARCADE 11/26.5
J: David Egan (3)  
T: William Muir  
12 ran. NRs: 5 


1st Dougie Costello silk 4. BORN TO REASON (IRE) 11/82.37f
2nd Luke Morris silk hd 9. STAMP DUTY (IRE) 11/112
3rd Tom Marquand silk hd 11. HENRY DID IT (IRE) 12/113
T: Kevin Frost  
11 ran. NRs: 2  8 


1st Stevie Donohoe silk 4. BALLYFARSOON (IRE) 9/25.5
2nd Georgia Cox silk 3. HERMARNA (IRE) 18/119
3rd Luke Morris silk ¾ 9. OCEAN GALE 13/27.5
T: Ian Williams  
All 13 ran.


1st Nicky Mackay silk 11. WISSAHICKON (USA) 7/24.5
2nd Richard Kingscote silk ns 4. CRAVING (IRE) 9/43.25f
3rd P. J. McDonald silk 1 6. READY TO IMPRESS (USA) 9/110
J: Nicky Mackay  
T: John Gosden  
11 ran. NRs: 10  7 


1st Robert Tart silk 11. MASTER SINGER (USA) 2/13f
2nd Pat Cosgrave silk 1 4. GOLDMEMBER 11/112
3rd Ted Durcan silk 7. KASPERENKO 3/14
J: Robert Tart  
T: John Gosden  
All 12 ran.


1st P. J. McDonald silk 10. LOVE OASIS 7/18
2nd Richard Kingscote silk ½ 9. FOUR DRAGONS 9/110
3rd Kevin Stott silk nk 4. KODICAT (IRE) 9/25.5
12 ran. NRs: 1 


1st Miss P. Fuller silk 5. GLOBAL THRILL 4/15
2nd Miss L. M. Pinchin silk 5 8. BRING BACK CHARLIE 7/18
3rd Miss A. E. Stirling silk 4. CHILLI ROMANCE (IRE) 8/19
J: Miss P. Fuller (5)  
12 ran. NRs: 11  7 


1st Stevie Donohoe silk 1. AHUNDREDNOTOUT 8/19
2nd Paddy Pilley silk ½ 2. BLAZED (IRE) 13/82.62f
3rd Callum Shepherd silk 1 4. RAFFLE KING (IRE) 5/23.5
9 ran. NRs: 7 
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