Phoenix Stakes Tips, Offers and Preview

Phoenix Stakes Tips and Betting Offers, 6:50 at the Curragh, 9th August 2019

The Curragh once again plays host to some of the most promising two-year-olds in racing on Friday. The Group 1 Phoenix Stakes, which is open to both fillies and colts, has been won by some big names in recent years. There are no fillies in the small but high class field for this year’s renewal.

Siskin Should Make the Most of Arizona’s Absence

Much of the build up for the Phoenix Stakes surrounded a mouth watering battle between Siskin and Arizona. Unfortunately, Arizona will not be turning up even though Aidan O’Brien suggested the Curragh was in his plans for one of his star two-year-olds.

Arizona had attracted much support in the ante post betting both for the work he’s already done this season and for O’Brien’s incredible record in the race. He’s already trained 16 different winners of the Phoenix Stakes and has a strong hand once again even with Arizona missing.

However, it will take very big performance from any of the three O’Brien horses in the field to get the better of Siskin. Ger Lyons’ star juvenile has a perfect record of three wins from three races so far. The most recent of those was his first win at the Group level in the Railway Stakes.

The American-bred horse justified his position as the odds-on favourite that day thanks to a commanding performance. Colin Keane has been delighted with Siskin’s combination of laid back attitude, cruising speed and turn of foot and the horse/jockey partnership should enjoy another win on Friday evening. Odds of 4/5 look solid enough to us and we can’t oppose the favourite here.

Best of the Rest

As mentioned already, Aidan O’Brien still has a real chance of extending his incredible record in the Phoenix Stakes, even given the absence of Arizona. Monarch Of Egypt is arguably the most impressive of his three entries and will benefit from a third straight pairing with Ryan Moore.

It was clear from a fair way out that Monarch Of Egypt was not going to catch Siskin last time out at the Curragh but he is entitled to come on for that performance and should be closer this time around. Some may be tempted by the odds of 2/1…but not us.

The horse most likely to challenge Siskin we believe, and who offers the best value to do so, is Royal Lytham. After a first class performance at Navan, he was entered into the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. Things didn’t go to plan that day but he made the most of a less complicated run next time out by scoring in the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket.

The way Royal Lytham quickened in the closing stages at Newmarket suggested that he’ll step up to 7 furlongs before the season is out. For now though he has what it takes to be a real player in the Phoenix Stakes. Odds of 4/1 aren’t worth an each way play but if 4/5 on Siskin doesn’t appeal, either try a small wager on Royal Lytham or be bold and go for a forecast.

Betting Predictions

The absence of Arizona is a blow to the Phoenix Stakes but we should still have a classy winner in the shape of Siskin. This is not the sort of race he’ll just be able to turn up and win but Siskin is the best horse in the race on the evidence of the limited form we’ve seen so far. Alternatively, consider Royal Lytham a dangerous challenger at much longer odds.

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Previous Race Winners

  • 2018 – Advertise – jockey Frankie Dettori, trainer Martyn Meade
  • 2017 – Sioux Nation – jockey Ryan Moore, trainer Aidan O’Brien
  • 2016 – Caravaggio – jockey Seamie Heffernan, trainer Aidan O’Brien
  • 2015 – Air Force Blue – jockey Joseph O’Brien, trainer Aidan O’Brien
  • 2014 – Dick Whittington – jockey Joseph O’Brien, trainer Aidan O’Brien
  • 2013 – Sudirman – jockey Wayne Lordan, trainer David Wachman
  • 2012 – Pedro The Great – jockey Seamie Heffernan, trainer Aidan O’Brien
  • 2011 – La Collina – jockey Declan McDonogh, trainer Kevin Prendergast
  • 2010 – Zoffany – jockey Johnny Murtagh, trainer Aidan O’Brien
  • 2009 – Alfred Noble – jockey Johnny Murtagh, trainer Aidan O’Brien

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Phoenix Stakes History

Now well into its second century of existence, this 6f Group 1 contest, open to juvenile colts and fillies, is well established as one of the premier two year old contests of the season. The race’s journey towards its current status hasn’t been a straightforward one though, with the event undergoing changes in terms of its title, race distance, grade and location.

Making its debut back in 1902 the event takes its name from the course at which it was initially held, namely the north Dublin venue of Phoenix Park. Going under the title of the Phoenix Plate, that original contest was held over the minimum 5f trip.

Staged continuously at Phoenix Park until 1982, the race was given its current title in 1956 and initially allocated Grade 2 status upon the advent of classifications in 1971. With the quality of runner steadily increasing over the years, it didn’t take long for Group 1 status to arrive in 1979.

Time for a Move

1982 marked the first occasion that the race was run away from its Phoenix Park home – Leopardstown stepping in to host the event following the temporary closure of the track.

That first move away from Phoenix Park proved to be just a one-year hiatus, with the race returning to its birthplace in 1983. That 1983 edition was a significant one too, marking the first time the race was run over its current trip of 6f.

Sadly, financial issues continued to blight Phoenix Park, leading to the closure of the track – this time on a permanent basis – in 1990. Leopardstown again stepped in to host the event between 1991 and 2001, with the race then switching to its current venue of the Curragh in 2002.

Mixed Success for Winners

With this contest often falling to a speedy, precocious sort, not all winners have gone on to big things beyond their juvenile season. Some do though, including the Aidan O’Brien-trained duo of 2000 Guineas winner George Washington and Irish 2000 champ Mastercraftsman who took this in 2005 and 2008 respectively.

The likes of Fasliyev and Danehill Dancer may not have gone on to achieve anything like Classic success, but they have proven successful in passing on their ability in successful careers at stud.

Another to have made his mark in the breeding world is 2001 champ Johannesburg. A four-time Group 1 winner as a juvenile, he seemed to pass on all that speed and precociousness to his equally brilliant grandson, Caravaggio, who followed in his forebearer’s hoofprints to take this race in 2016.

Trainer and Jockey Records for the Phoenix Stakes

There aren’t too many Irish Group 1 contests where Aidan O’Brien doesn’t lead the way in the training ranks, and the master of Ballydoyle has proven to be dominant in this event. First successful with Lavery in 1998, O’Brien landed a 16th success with Sioux Nation in 2017, putting him well clear of any other trainer in the history of the race.

Michael Kinane’s close ties with the O’Brien operation see him lead the way in the jockey standings, as of 2018, with five wins in total. First successful aboard King Persian for Liam Browne in 1983, Kinane then landed four out of five editions for O’Brien between 1999 and 2003.