Saturday 10 December 2016

Aidan O'Brien hoping Caravaggio can rise to Phoenix challenge

Published 05/08/2016 | 12:46

Caravaggio
Caravaggio

Caravaggio bids to become the latest in a long line of Ballydoyle superstars to land the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes when he puts his huge reputation on the line at the Curragh on Sunday.

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Trainer Aidan O'Brien has an astonishing record in the prestigious juvenile contest having saddled 14 of the last 18 winners.

The likes of Johannesburg (2001), George Washington (2005) and Holy Roman Emperor (2006) are among those on the roll of honour, and Caravaggio will be extremely prohibitive odds to follow in their hoofprints having won each of his three starts to date in dominant fashion.

Since making a successful debut on the all-weather at Dundalk in mid-April, the Scat Daddy colt has waltzed clear in the Marble Hill Stakes before a scintillating victory in the Coventry at Royal Ascot.

He is already as short as 3-1 for next season's 2000 Guineas and connections have been pleased with his progress post-Ascot.

O'Brien said: " Caravaggio has been in good form since Royal Ascot and everyone has been happy with him.

"He has just been continuing his routine, but it has gone well and we are pleased.

"He had an easy time since Ascot and has slowly built up again. We're very happy with everything he's doing so far."

Caravaggio is the star turn in a field of just five runners, with O'Brien saddling Courage Under Fire, who remains a maiden after three starts and can be expected to be deployed as a pacemaker.

The biggest threat to the odds-on favourite appears to be the Ger Lyons-trained Medicine Jack, who has won twice from four appearances and was last seen landing the Railway Stakes over this course and distance on Irish Derby day.

Joseph O'Brien saddles Ambiguity, and Grand Coalition from Johnny Murtagh's yard completes the line-up.

Press Association

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