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Dick lords it in the phoenix

Feared soft ground made sure that Eddie Lynam didn't even get the chance to claim a first Irish Group One at the Curragh yesterday as shortly after the first race confirmation came that Alexander Anthem was a non-runner from the feature Keeneland Phoenix Stakes.

The heavens opened just after John F Kennedy had readily impressed in winning the opening maiden for Aidan and Joseph O'Brien and speaking from under the slight shelter of an umbrella, O'Brien also suggested he would be withdrawing The Great War and War Envoy.

A quick chat with the lads and confirmation of those withdrawals shortly followed as did the announcement that the ground at HQ was now soft.

Joseph then switched to Dick Whittington and despite a rather confusingly long stewards inquiry, the son of Rip Van Winkle was confirmed the winner after he out-grinded the Richard Hannon trained Kool Kompany and Ger Lyons' Cappella Sansevero.

It wasn't easy going for the two-year-olds but it was probably no surprise that those battling it out at the death were three colts who had some previous form on easy ground.

Dick Whittington had blotted his copybook when a beaten favourite in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot but O'Brien admitted yesterday that could have been as much about too soon after his run a week earlier at Navan rather than a step up to seven-furlongs.

"He's a tough, hardy horse," the winning trainer said. "We weren't sure before today if he would get a mile or not but looking at that today and the way he toughed it out you'd say a mile will be no problem. We took a chance going back to Royal Ascot a week after Navan and in hindsight maybe that was just a bit too quick back from him and we'll take it easy with him now.

O'Brien wasn't committing to future plans and when asked about the where next he responded: "We won't be in any panic with him, he has done plenty and we'll give him a little rest. We'll be in no rush with him. The ground doesn't seem to bother him."

Credit has to be given for the winner for battling out the success, but also to the runner-up Kool Kompany who was beaten half a length in second despite being on his travels for the fourth time this season.

company

Kool Kompany had won in Listed company at Naas earlier this season before winning the Railway Stakes at the Curragh and going to win the Prix Robert Papin in France, while Cappella Sansevero also lost little in defeat a further shorthead back.

Ridden by Colin Keane, he looked in command for a couple of strides but afterwards Lyons said: "He hated the ground but his honesty saw him home."

Like yesterday's feature race winner, O'Brien will be in no rush with John F Kennedy who he described as "still very babyish" after his impressive maiden win and he was handed a quote of 16/1 from 33/1 for the Epsom Derby from Paddy Power before later being cut to 12/1 by the same firm.

The Group Three Phoenix Sprint went the way of the Tommy Stack-trained 20/1 shot Scream Blue Murder who was a nice spare ride for Pat Smullen as Wayne Lordan and Billy Lee were in action in France.

It was a day to remember for trainer Andy Oliver who completed a double on the Curragh card with 50/1 shot Run The Red Light getting the ball rolling before No Domination completed the brace. Fran Berry, who won on Run The Red Light, also doubled up by guiding the Jessica Harrington-trained Port Merrion to victory.


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