Advertise does his best impression of Rocky Balboa going into Russia to fight Ivan Drago in the Phoenix Stakes (15:35) at the Curragh on Sunday. While Stallone had an army of Soviet soldiers cheering him back, the Martyn Meade-trained Advertise will have to master a battalion of Ballydoyle runners if he is to land the first Group 1 of his short career.
He was second in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot (beaten a length by potential superstar and excellent Scrabble score, Calyx) and – much like Man City will find this season – didn’t need to improve to win the July Stakes at Newmarket last time.
Advertise remains capable of better, though he might have to find some more improvement to match strides with Sergei Prokofiev. He cost 1/70th of a top, top, top, top, top goalkeeper (©Brendan Rodgers), but created a good impression when winning a listed race at Naas in May. He was third – only a neck behind Advertise – in the Coventry on his next start, having to weave his way through a couple of furlongs out, and is sure to go on improving.
His stablemates Indigo Balance and The Irish Rover both flopped at Ascot but it’s too soon to rule either out, while So Perfect has progressed with each start and isn’t discounted either. With Aidan O’Brien having trained 16 winners of the race, it will take a brave man to strongly oppose any of the Ballydoyle runners, but Advertise has the ability to emerge on top.
Aidan O’Brien may have won the similarly-titled Phoenix Sprint (16:10) last year, but it’s not a race that he has dominated over the years.
And with Spirit of Valor his only runner compared to son Joseph’s two (Speak In Colours and Now You’re Talking), it feels like when a son buys a first pint for his dad.
You know the youngster isn’t going to be as good at drinking, but it won’t be long before he’s out all night and the ‘old man’ is sat in the corner talking about the good old days.
With regards to Sunday’s race, Spirit of Valor is clear on weight-adjusted Timeform ratings and this is the easiest task he has faced for a while; if he can see off Gorane early, then he could be hard to peg back.
Elsewhere on the card, the fillies’ race at 15:00 looks a cracker. Pink Dogwood is a sister to the Irish Derby winner Latrobe, but he wasn’t able to win until his fourth start – in his second season – and the progeny of Camelot tend to be slower on the uptake than Neil from the Inbetweeners.
Dragon Roll and Fulminate both impressed when winning on debut, but preference is for Lady Kaya who shaped with promise when a length third to Decrypt in a six-furlong maiden at the track in June. She was doing her best work at the finish there, and with the 4th, 7th and 11th winning since, the form looks stronger than Rocky’s jawline.
Timeform’s Treble for the Curragh:
15.00 – Lady Kaya @ 11/4
15.35 – Advertise @ 5/4
16.10 – Spirit of Valor @ 6/4
The Treble pays 20/1
*All prices correct at time of posting