Saturday 10 December 2016

Air Force takes flight in Phoenix

Published 09/08/2015 | 19:48

Air Force Blue (centre) leads home his rivals in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh
Air Force Blue (centre) leads home his rivals in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh

Air Force Blue was promoted to head of the betting for next year's Qipco 2000 Guineas after a stylish performance in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh.

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Aidan O'Brien's colt was sent off the 9-4 second-favourite having finished behind Buratino in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

That rival was in opposition again and there was enough confidence behind Mark Johnston's juvenile to see him start as the 11-10 market leader to confirm the form.

Buratino was in the perfect position to strike two furlongs from home, but he had no answer to Air Force Blue, who took off under Joseph O'Brien to win going away by two lengths.

Stablemate Washington DC, a Royal Ascot winner himself, beat Buratino for second.

O'Brien has now won eight of the last 11 runnings of the six-furlong Group One contest.

"He came forward well from Ascot. He won his maiden here and didn't learn a lot, and was a baby going to Ascot," said O'Brien.

"He settled, travelled and quickened up well today, and he was very professional.

"He put it to bed very quickly and he galloped out well. He has a few options now, including the Prix Morny."

The winner is the 8-1 favourite for the Guineas with Coral and RaceBets, halving in price.

O'Brien added: "It's good to see the form standing up. The second and third were both Ascot winners, and Washington DC has run a good race again. I'm very happy with him."

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