It’s Phoenix Stakes day and traditionally the feature race is an Aidan O’Brien benefit.
Siskin broke the Balldoyle wizards’ spell last year and Aidan’s juveniles haven’t looked great this season.
This has emboldened a couple of UK based trainers to send runners over and it could be a huge day for Michael O’Callaghan, who saddles favourite Steel Bull. The ground is on the easy side at the moment and with a warm, dry weather forecast, good ground seems most likely.
I went around in circles with the big race. The clock watchers were purring about Steel Bull after his debut win in Naas and he did what they expected when quickening up well to win last time out at Glorious Goodwood.
That probably wasn’t a particularly strong race and it’s hard to shake the visual impression all the same. He would be my idea of the winner but with plenty of credible opposition about, I’m happy to watch the race. Here are a few selections that will carry my cash:
The nursery at an appealing race, mainly because there are seven runners and one of them is Tar Heel.
He looks ungenuine to me, but should take a decent chunk out of the market and DACESA rates the selection. This filly is the only winner in the line-up. Admittedly, it wasn’t much of a race she won.
Her subsequent effort, when fourth in Down Royal, has had a significant form boost since.
She got a bit tapped for toe that day but stuck on willingly and he step up to six furlongs should help. An opening mark of 80 isn’t obviously lenient.
None of these appeal as particularly well handicapped though, and in a race that could have a few holes in it, Dacesa looks a very solid play.
The Phoenix Sprint Stakes looks highly competitive. Speak In Colours and Millisle should head the betting. Both are respected on the back of impressive wins last time out. Both are penalised though, which could leave them vulnerable.
GLEN SHIEL might represent a spot of value and Archie Watson’s six-year-old is in rare form. He has won two of his last three starts, with the defeat came at the hands of a very promising horse.
The two wins were at Newcastle, but I wouldn’t have him pegged as an all-weather specialist and this horse has a great attitude.
He should enjoy a strong pace to run at here and I expect him to run through the line strongly. Perhaps strongly enough to win.
So Wonderful goes in search of that elusive maiden victory here having been a beaten favourite on her last four starts. The bookies may be able to make the final payment on the monument they are building to her after this race. She could win of course, but is surely worth opposing.
LADY ANNER is the obvious alternative. This filly had a bad experience on her second start, she got upset in the stalls and suffered interference in the race. She subsequently proved that run all wrong when finishing second in Gowran Park.
That looks like solid form and a repeat here might be good enough, she should be improving too.
Her wide draw is the main concern, but she showed bright gate speed in Gowran. If Shane Foley can get a handy early position, this filly should take some stopping.
A mile handicap closes the card and the three-year-olds hold a strong hand here.
FRANK ARTHUR appeals most as this horse made his handicap debut over course and distance last month. He put up a sterling effort in finishing second to the highly progressive Fame And Acclaim.
There’s been mixed messages from the form subsequently and In From The Cold is a solid stick. His Galway efforts suggest that the Curragh race will work out.
Frank has gone up three pounds in the weights and Sunday will be just the fifth race of his life though. I reckon he will cope though.
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