2019 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes tips – Can anyone stop the favourite in Curragh’s Friday feature?

Siskin paints a wonderful picture as he streaks to victory at the Curragh.

Siskin paints a wonderful picture as he streaks to victory at the Curragh.

Brian Healy takes a look through the field in this year’s Keeneland Phoenix Stakes and provides readers with his tips Preview and tips for Group One at the Curragh on Friday 9th August.

The feature race of Friday’s evening racing card at the Curragh, the Group One Phoenix Stakes goes to post at 6.50pm as the fourth race of the evening, and the six furlongs sprint along the Curragh straight has attracted a small yet very select field of promising juveniles to contest for a first prize in excess of €170,000.

Aidan O’Brien has an excellent recent record in this contest, landing the top prize on no less than 16 occasions which includes in four of the last five years, and the Ballydoyle maestro saddles three of the five runners in the contest.

Royal Lytham (15/2, Paddy Power) is 2-3 in his starts thus far, bouncing back from a fair performance in the Coventry Stakes where he finished seventh behind Arizona to resume winning ways at Newmarket with a narrow defeat of Platinum Star in the July Stakes.

The Gleneagles colt had also won on his debut prior to his Ascot outing, and while the form of his latest Group Two success has taken a couple of knocks it was nevertheless a good effort, and there could be more to come from him.

The suspicion is though he’ll need to find a fair jolt of improvement if he’s to trouble the leading pair in this contest which includes stablemate Monarch Of Egypt (6/5, Coral) who made a very taking debut when scoring at Naas in April prior to finding only the reopposing Siskin too strong here in June when finishing runner-up in the Railway Stakes.

The American Pharoah colt was beaten just over two lengths behind Ger Lyons’ rival, but he could close the gap now given that was his first run since April and he possibly might just have lacked some sharpness; while the winner possibly got first run on him.

Likely to prove the main threat to Ger Lyons’ unbeaten colt, he nevertheless probably needs to find some more progress, but that isn’t outside the realms of possibility and he can run a big race.

Mount Fuji is the third of the O’Brien trio, and the Dark Angel colt is a smart performer in his own right although possibly not quite up to Group One level judging on his starts to date.

Siskin

Siskin (left) powering clear of his rivals here at the Curragh.

A winner at Cork on debut, he appeared not to act on softer ground at Ascot behind A’Ali in the Norfolk Stakes, and he wasn’t able to make a return to winning ways when only finishing fifth in the Anglesey Stakes here last time out.

This will demand a good shade more than what he’s been able to achieve thus far, and he looks up against it stepping into a Group One against the likes of SISKIN (5/6, Paddy Power) who has looked a high-class prospect in rattling of an unbeaten hat-trick of wins, and Ger Lyons’ charge can win a first Group One success for the Meath handler.

The First Defence colt made a good impression when successfully scoring on debut at Naas in May, after which he showed himself to be a smart individual with a ready Listed success next time over course and distance where he beat both King Neptune and Harpocrates readily.

Both the third and the fifth from that race have won since, and he stepped up again to score a decisive win back over course and distance where he had the reopposing Monarch Of Egypt almost three lengths in arrears.

Always travelling strongly, he showed a decisive turn of pace to readily assert, and Colin Keane was able to ease him close home which may in turn have flattered the proximity to which the runner-up finished behind him.

He sets a stiff standard on that performance, and with the potential for better still to come he can further enhance his growing reputation to make it four wins from four starts if the prospect of slower ground doesn’t prove a hindrance to his chances.

Completing the quintet for this Group One prize, Think Big (100/1, Ladbrokes) takes a big step up in class having got off the mark at the third attempt at Down Royal last month with a defeat of Millisle.

The Night Of Thunder colt had finished runner-up at Fairyhouse the time before having looked green on debut, and John Joseph Murphy’s charge is capable of finding further improvement.

This is a massive step up though, and his form leaves him with a good bit to find with the principals so he’s likely to struggle in this grade for all he is a potentially useful prospect in his own right.

A test such as this however is likely to prove beyond his scope, but connections should enjoy a good evening out and a decent prize return simply for turning up.

VERDICT

This could boil down to a match between Monarch Of Egypt and SISKIN (5/6, Paddy Power), with preference for the latter having already beaten Aidan O’Brien’s charge convincingly in the Railway Stakes last time out.

Ger Lyons’ unbeaten First Defence colt has looked a high-class prospect in his three wins to date, and he won a shade readily over his reopposing adversary here where he was always travelling smoothly before asserting to score, and jockey Colin Keane was able to ease him down close home.

Likely to have further improvement to come, he ought to be tough to beat here assuming the prospect of softer ground doesn’t prove an inconvenience, and he can give the Meath handler a first Group One success with a fourth career win here.

2019 PHOENIX STAKES SELECTION – SISKIN (5/6, Paddy Power)