Saturday 24 February 2018

Anthem has what it takes to strike right note for Lynam

Following their Royal Ascot success, Pat Smullen (centre) will be hoping to partner Anthem
Alexander to another victory at the Curragh tomorrow. STEVE PARSONS/PA
Following their Royal Ascot success, Pat Smullen (centre) will be hoping to partner Anthem Alexander to another victory at the Curragh tomorrow. STEVE PARSONS/PA
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

After initiating Eddie Lynam's sensational week at Royal Ascot with such authority in the Queen Mary Stakes, Anthem Alexander will strive to secure the erudite Co Meath handler a first domestic Group One when she tackles tomorrow's Keeneland Phoenix Stakes.

The €200,000 Curragh feature promises to be one of the most informative juvenile events run this year, with Joseph O'Brien opting for The Great War from the Ballydoyle quartet.

Aidan O'Brien also has Dick Whittington, War Envoy and I Am Beautiful to draw on as he goes in search of a 13th Phoenix win, though it's hard to be too confident about their collective might on paper.

Kool Kompany is the only cross-channel hope. Fifth to The Wow Signal in the Coventry Stakes at Ascot, he then ran out a tidy winner of the Railway Stakes over this course and distance before turning in an admirable shift to take the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-laffitte, where he laboured from the start on unfavourably soft ground en route to eventually scoring deceptively well.

The Jeremy colt is a tough individual, so he will surely have a big say under Richard Hughes as he strives to give Richard Hannon his first win in a race that his father and namesake claimed with Pips Pride in 1992.

Ger Lyons' Cappella Sansevero failed to run its race when fifth in the Railway, after finishing a commendable second to The Wow Signal at Ascot.

Having been freshened up, this should give us a better idea of the capabilities of Colin Keane's £1.3m mount. Dick Whittington was among Cappella Sansevero's previous victims when he won three on the spin, so there is every chance of a debut domestic Group One win for Lyons now.

Kevin Prendergast's Beach Belle is one of three that will seek a 55th win for fillies in the six-furlong feature. Prendergast's La Collina was the last successful filly in 2011 and Beach Belle, which stretched its unbeaten record to two in a Naas Listed race in June, is certainly open to progression.


However, it's hard to make a case against Anthem Alexander securing a landmark win for the increasingly prominent Lynam, whose dry wit and contrarian outlook have been a breath of fresh air.

She was a runaway winner at Tipperary on her second outing and then showed an abundance of quality at Ascot in the way that she travelled over five furlongs and found for pressure under Pat Smullen to deny Tiggy Wiggy, which has since hosed up in a valuable sales race at Newbury.

If Anthem Alexander can replicate that level of performance, she is fancied to simply be too good, notwithstanding that she is not yet proven over six furlongs.

Given the way that she powered to the line at Ascot, you'd imagine that the trip won't be an issue.

Lynam claimed the following Phoenix Sprint with the mighty Slade Power 12 months ago and Maarek, which chased home the dual Group One hero when last seen here in the Greenlands Stakes in May, is the one to beat this time. Ideally, Evanna McCutcheon's Prix de l'Abbaye victor would need the ground to be on the slow side to show his very best, but he should be up to this regardless.

The English raiders Hamza and Rocky Ground are respected, while Russian Soul and Jamesie will be better suited by this six-furlong trip than the five furlongs that they were due to run over at Tipperary last night.

At his peak, though, Maarek really ought to score for Declan McDonogh.

Earlier on, Tony Martin's bottom weight Anner Queen is a tentative nap in the seven-furlong handicap.

A staying-on third to the reopposing Fix It at Down Royal recently, Chris Hayes' mount is fancied to exploit a six-pound pull at the weights with that one in what is admittedly an open race.

Irish Independent

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