Curragh preview: Siskin has Phoenix Stakes at his mercy

Published on: August 8, 2019
Author: Jamie Clark
2019 Phoenix Stakes preview from The Curragh includes Siskin

The first juvenile Group 1 in the British Isles this year, the 6f Phoenix Stakes, takes place at The Curragh on Friday evening (18:50), and Siskin is a red-hot favourite for it.

Trained by Ger Lyons, this Prince Khalid Abdullah owned First Defence colt is unbeaten in three career starts.

Two of those were over course and distance. After winning a Naas maiden by 2 3/4 lengths, Siskin stepped into Listed company. He soon quickened clear to follow-up in the Marble Hill here and win by a similar margin.

Siskin’s serious upward curve continued last time out when again on the upgrade for the Group 2 Railway Stakes during the Irish Derby Festival.

After leading a furlong-and-a-half from home, he was ridden clear and soon in command. Regular jockey Colin Keane then eased Siskin close home, so he was value for plenty more than the winning margin.

On that form, he has nothing to fear from the re-opposing runner-up Monarch Of Egypt. Siskin’s hope of adding to his hat-trick in the Phoenix Stakes were also boosted by ante post market rival Arizona missing the race.

It now looks his for the taking and, barring accidents, he’s a worthy odds-on 10/11 favourite with Bethard for the four-timer. Siskin simply can’t be opposed here and is a hugely exciting prospect for the future.

Royal Lytham looks Phoenix Stakes forecast value

Although Aidan O’Brien keeps Royal Ascot winner Arizona under wraps, it’s hard to make a case for Monarch Of Egypt reversing the Railway form.

While Ryan Moore keeps faith with the American Pharoah colt, he’s plenty to find with Siskin.

Royal Lytham is another Ballydoyle inmate in the Phoenix Stakes that has won a top class juvenile race, however, and looks better forecast value.

After winning a Navan maiden in June, this Gleneagles colt also ran in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes.

Unlike Arizona, Royal Lytham was impeded inside the final furlong and couldn’t make a further impression. He was far from disgraced in going down 3 3/4 lengths in seventh.

Golden Horde, the fifth horse home in the Coventry, has since come out and won the Group 2 Richmond Stakes. Royal Lytham has also advertised that Royal Ascot form with victory at that level last time out.

That came in the July Stakes at Newmarket last month. After pressing the leaders a furlong from home, Royal Lytham soon challenged and maintained his effort under pressure.

He got up in the final strides and scored by a short-head from Platinum Star. It was a big step forward from Royal Lytham.

Granted further improvement, he looks overpriced and each-way value at 15/2 with Betway in relation to stable companion Monarch Of Egypt.

Beckford the Phoenix Sprint selection

The other big race on the Phoenix Stakes card is the Group 3 Phoenix Sprint (19:25). Beckford looks a value bet at 4/1 with Ladbrokes for trainer Gordon Elliott under an eye-catching jockey booking in in-form jockey Donnacha O’Brien.

This four-year-old Bated Breath colt was a progressive juvenile with a fine record at this venue in 2017.

After winning a maiden over course and distance on debut, Beckford followed-up in the Railway Stakes and was then runner-up in two Group 1s.

His stamina hasn’t stretched beyond the 6f trip of this as he was beaten 3 1/2 lengths in the National Stakes and 2 1/4 lengths at the Breeders’ Cup over further.

Beckford had one race as a three-year-old winning a Churchill Downs sprint in America before spending over a year off the track.

After returning to Elliott’s County Meath yard, he was a tenderly handled seventh on return to action in a Listed contest at Naas.

Although beaten 7 1/2 lengths by Soffia, who has won a Group 3 and Group 2 here since, Beckford wasn’t knocked about.

He was also a close-up, unlucky in-running fifth last time out over course and distance. Beckford was twice denied a clear run at key stages and couldn’t keep his place as a result.

As he only went down by 1 1/2 lengths to Speak In Colours, who was previously a fine fourth to Blue Point in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, it’s a performance we can be upgraded.

Beckford was only a neck behind the re-opposing fourth, Southern Horse. He also meets the runner-up Woody Creek on 5lb better terms with only 1 1/4 lengths to find.

That should be more than enough to reverse form, granted a clear passage.

Servalan feared most, Woody Creek has each-way claims

As Beckford and the other older horses give 4lb weight-for-age to three-year-olds, a couple of fillies also look dangerous in receipt of an additional 3lb sex allowance.

The Jessica Harrington trained Servalan comes out joint top on adjusted ratings, so is feared most.

This daughter of No Nay Never tries Group 3 company again after posting improved form this season.

Servalan did win a Listed sprint at Naas last term, but then found Group races too hot in three subsequent starts.

After chasing home Lethal Promise when eased in grade on reappearance at Cork, she went one better under a perfectly-timed ride from Shane Foley last time out.

Servalan made up plenty of ground when finding herself short of room at the furlong marker.

She was still fourth 100 yards from home at Naas, but got up in the final strides for a short-head success over Woody Creek.

The two fillies meet on the same terms here and, although there’s little to choose between them, Harrington’s yard has had winners this week.

Woody Creek has been on the go since April whereas Servalan just has two runs this season under belt.

The Fozzy Stack trained daughter of Zoffany won a Premier Handicap at Naas in May and was an unlucky runner-up on her last couple of starts.

She was held just a head by Speak In Colours when finishing in front of Beckford. Although now 5lb worse off with him, Woody Creek comes out level on adjusted ratings taking the weight-for-age and sex allowance into account.

There is a worry she may be over the top, but odds of 5/1 with Betfair are each-way value in the Phoenix Sprint.

It’s Servalan who looks the bigger danger, however, at a shorter price of 4/1 with Paddy Power.