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Saturday 1 October 2016

A winning picture for Aidan

Caravaggio
Caravaggio

Aidan O'Brien's exciting youngster Caravaggio is among the 10 two-year-olds in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

Ante-post market leader for the 2000 Guineas, the unbeaten winner of Royal Ascot's Coventry Stakes is one six possibles for the Group One over six furlongs hailing from the O'Brien yard.

The others are headed by English Derby favourite Churchill, winner of the Chesham Stakes at the Royal meeting and the Group Three Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown.

Courage Under Fire, Edgar Allan Poe, Intelligence Cross and Duchess of Cambridge Stakes scorer Roly Poly complete the Ballydoyle squad.

O'Brien's son, Joseph, is represented by Ambiguity, while Ger Lyons has left in his Railway Stakes victor Medicine Jack.

The John Murphy-trained Confrontational and Johnny Murtagh's Grand Coalition are also in contention.

North Yorkshire trainer David O'Meara has supplemented Lord Of The Land for the Qatar Racing Club Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

The five-year-old, who was trained in France by Andre Fabre until this season, has gradually been getting his act together and was a good fifth to The Tin Man in the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury on his latest start.

Goodwood Cup fourth Wicklow Brave is in the running for a trip to Australia and the Melbourne Cup.

Grade One placed over hurdles, the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old was an excellent fourth to Big Orange in the Goodwood Cup last week, adding to other good efforts on the level that include third in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot back in October.

Owner Nick Peacock said: "Unfortunately he wasn't quite as good as Big Orange, but he ran a blinder and acquitted himself well.

"We'll see what the handicapper does. I think we'd like to go to the Melbourne Cup, but we'll have to see what the handicapper does.

"He could probably do with going up by a couple of pounds. With his current rating he would be right on the edge of getting in, I think, and it would be a big risk to take him there, with the cost and everything else, if you're not sure you're going to get a run.

"Willie has mentioned the Lonsdale Cup as a possible next race for him and I suppose the Irish St Leger might be the last opportunity to run if he was going to go to Australia."

Peacock also reports Arctic Fire to be in rude health as the Grade One-winning hurdler nears a return to training.

Campaign

The seven-year-old enjoyed his best campaign to date last season, winning the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan and the Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse to break his Grade One duck.

He disappointed when stepped up to three miles over Christmas, but chased home esteemed stable companion Faugheen in the Irish Champion Hurdle to set up a return to the Cheltenham Festival.

However, just days after Faugheen was ruled out of the two-mile showpiece, Arctic Fire was found to have chipped a bone in his leg and he too missed the rest of the season.

Peacock said: "He appears to be in very good shape, thankfully.

"I know he looks a million dollars at the moment and is bossing the other horses around in the paddock."

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