Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (Curragh) Preview & Betting Tips – Sunday 7th August 2016

This coming Sunday sees one of the major juvenile sprint contests of the season take place over in Ireland. Taking its name from its original Phoenix Park host, this Group 1, 6f event has been held at the Curragh since 2002. Turtle Island, Johannesburg and George Washington all feature on the list of previous winners here and this year we have one of the most impressive performers from Royal Ascot bidding to join them.

Race Analysis

If the market is to be believed here we need look no further for the winner than Aidan O’Brien’s Caravaggio. Being sent off at odds of just 1/3 for his debut, this one clearly had been making all the right noises at home and won as he liked. Following up in an excellent time in a Listed contest at this track, he was then sent to Royal Ascot’s Coventry Stakes for his first Group class assignment.

In trotting up once again, despite the soft ground supposedly being against him, he marked himself out as potentially out of the very top drawer. Ryan Moore certainly liked the feel the colt gave him, stating, “At this stage he’d be the best I’ve sat on”. That is some endorsement considering the high class two year olds Moore has gotten the leg up on over the years. Coventry Stakes runner up Mehmas has gone some way to franking the form by subsequently landing the Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and it’s difficult to find many holes in this one.

The main threat to Caravaggio may well come from Ger Lyons’ Medicine Jack. On a line of form through Mehmas this one would appear to have it do with the favourite, having been beaten over six lengths by the Richard Hannon runner back in May. This son of Equaino appears to have come on in leaps and bounds since that run though and showed both speed and the heart for a scrap when landing a Group 2 over this course and distance last time out.

Johnny Murtagh rode the winner three times for Aidan O’Brien in his days in the saddle. Having carved a new career as a trainer he takes on the master of Ballydoyle here with his representative Grand Coalition. Having been beaten 22l by Caravaggio and 5l by Medicine Jack already this season, he will need a significant step forward on what will be his sixth career start if he is to trouble the principles. Any drying of the ground will be in his favour, as comfortably his best effort to date came on his sole start on good to firm going when accounting for the smart Intelligence Cross.

Betting Tips

It’s difficult to see the jolly being turned over here. On the back of some seriously impressive performances at the track and glowing comments from connections, Caravaggio is now clear market leader for next season’s 2000 Guineas and can take this in his stride at 1/4 with Betfred.