There looked to be plenty of strength in depth to Sunday’s Phoenix Stakes at Curragh, with 10 heading to post for the first time since 2001 (when Johannesburg won the last running of the race at Leopardstown).
It was still a one-sided contest, however, as Lucky Vega comprehensively overturned the Railway Stakes form with Laws of Indices (shaped well in fourth after blowing the start) to run out a three-and-a-half-length winner, posting a Timeform rating of 116p, which places him at the head of the juvenile pecking order alongside Richmond Stakes winner Supremacy.
The Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket – which is also on the agenda for Supremacy – was mooted as a possible target for Lucky Vega, whose performance in the Phoenix Stakes has been bettered by only Air Force Blue, Mastercraftsman, George Washington and Johannesburg this century.
Omnivega looks a horse to follow
Omnivega (remains on 104p) had produced a striking turf of foot to run down a subsequent winner and complete the hat-trick at Kempton last month, the style of victory marking him down as a potentially smart sort.
The question he had to answer at Ascot on Saturday, however, was whether he was as effective on turf having done all his winning on the all-weather. Omnivega’s winning sequence may have come to an end at Ascot, but he certainly enhanced his reputation in defeat, shaping really well having been left with a lot to do.
In fact, such was his strength at the finish, it’s not pushing it to say that he shaped best. That eye-catching effort answered any questions about his effectiveness on turf, and there looks to be a big handicap in him.
Irish jockey Gavin Ryan looks destined for top tier
One of the stories of the season has been the remarkable ascent of 20-year-old Gavin Ryan, who was recently able to claim 5 lb despite trainers entrusting him to ride in Group races on level terms against more experienced competitors.
Ryan’s 3 lb claim is simply a huge advantage and one which ensures he will remain a man in demand in valuable handicaps. He rode five winners at the Galway Festival, his haul including a victory on Saltonstall in the valuable BMW Mile, and registered his first Group-race success last week in the Silver Flash Stakes on Shale for Donnacha O’Brien, who has been his biggest backer.
He has also forged successful associations with Dermot Weld and Aido McGuiness, so opportunities will continue to come his way, and he looks destined to reach the very top.
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