Tuesday 23 January 2018

Mick Kinane: Phoenix Stakes may be for export

William Buick celebrates after winning the Coventry Stakes on Buratino Reuters / Eddie Keogh
William Buick celebrates after winning the Coventry Stakes on Buratino Reuters / Eddie Keogh

Aidan O’Brien has assembled a strong team in an attempt to enhance his incredible record in the Group One Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh but I have a feeling, provided we don’t get too much rain, that the race could be set to go to one of the British challengers, as Buratino looks to set the standard.

This is a race truly worthy of Group One status and it is undoubtedly the best juvenile race we have seen so far this year so it’ll be exciting to see how all these good colts fare out against each other and not to forget David Wachman’s filly Most Beautiful, who gets 3lbs from the lads.

Buratino won the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and that is form that you simply cannot argue with, but, as I said, the only concern is that he appears to really relish quick ground and I’m sure Mark Johnston wouldn’t like to see too much more rain falling around the Curragh before mid-afternoon on Sunday.

That said, I’m sure most of the field would be in the same boat and whatever rain that falls is likely to be an inconvenience for them all so it’ll be a case of the best horse coming through it.

Until we see Ballydoyle’s jockey bookings, which were unavailable at the time of going to print, it is hard to tell which way their pecking order is

 That will give us a guide as to how they’ve been working since their last run but these are the colts that Aidan earmarked for the race a fortnight ago so he must be fairly happy with their preparations.

As we look ahead to one top level race at the Curragh this weekend it is only right that we reflect on Legatissimo’s victory in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood last Saturday.

That was undoubtedly the filly at her best and she’s a horse that thrives over a mile and a quarter but clearly has a lot of speed too and if she got quick ground she could certainly be a filly that could successfully take on the colts.  The Irish Champion Stakes is a race that immediately springs to mind for me, but again she would want to definitely have quick ground for a target like that and the Matron Stakes on the same card is a much more obvious target.

But connections haven’t ruled out taking on the colts and I’d be excited to see her do so if they go down that route.

It’ll be interesting to see where they send her and a clash with Golden Horn hasn’t been ruled out either, but I would say the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland would look an ideal end of season target.

I was absolutely thrilled for Wayne Lordan who got his chance on Legatissimo again last weekend.

Wayne is the consummate professional, and make no mistake, it has been a tough year for him.

There was a shuffling of the pack at the start of the year, with Ryan Moore coming in and riding the Coolmore horses. That had a serious knock-on effect on Wayne, costing him an English Classic winner.

But he has kept his head down, staying focused on his job. He is a huge asset to David Wachman and the Stacks, where he goes in and does work, and is a major part of their teams. He fully deserved the big win on Saturday and, hopefully, there will be many more of them in the future.

I’m glad to report that My Titania is on course to return to action at Gowran Park on Wednesday in the Hurry Harriet Stakes.

It has been most unfortunate that she has suffered a number of setbacks and not got to the races as often as we would have liked, but it will be interesting to see her over nine-and-a-half furlongs at Gowran Park.

It’s a decent looking listed race but she has got the form in the book and if she can return to her best we should have something to look forward to.

John Oxx will also introduce a nice Sea The Stars two-year-old called Sea Of Mystery who is a nice colt but he can be a bit lazy in his work, so it will be nice to give him a run and get his career underway and the horse should learn a lot from that.

Tomorrow at Ascot they host the Shergar Cup where they form teams with some of the leading jockeys around the world and it’s something I was involved in when the very first international jockeys’ challenge came to Hong Kong.

It would be something that might be worth considering for Irish Champions Weekend when you may have a few top international riders over.

Obviously, Irish Champions Weekend is being flagged as our shop window and if we could put on a few races and team up the jockeys, similarly to how they do it in in the Shergar Cup, it may be another interesting incentive for the weekend.

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