Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 18 September 2019

O'Brien's 'Lytham' should find Phoenix conditions to his liking

Aidan O’Brien. Photo: Getty Images
Aidan O’Brien. Photo: Getty Images

Thomas Kelly

With over an inch of rain forecast for the Curragh prior to racing this evening, all eyes will be on the ground description ahead of the first Group One two-year-old race of the season.

Currently described as good, one would have to expect a change towards yielding ground at least if that rain materialises and that might force a doubt over the participation of Siskin, which is unbeaten from three starts for Ger Lyons.

Just five runners are declared for the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes, but the top three in the market are sure to prove in the top rank of this season's juveniles and while Siskin might turn out to be the best of them in time, Royal Lytham (6.50, Curragh) could prove the most adaptable to changing conditions.

Aidan O'Brien's Monarch Of Egypt comes into the race with a lofty reputation and after suffering a setback he made an encouraging return last time out but was still no match for Siskin on that occasion.

Royal Lytham could only manage to finish seventh in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot but did win since in a Newmarket Group Two and the son of Gleneagles also triumphed with an ease in the ground at Navan on debut.

It's a tentative choice, but this may be another Group One opportunity for Donnacha O'Brien.

The opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden is likely to revolve around which improves most from their last start and Hong Kong (5.15, Curragh) would be a tentative choice there.

Heaven Of Heavens (6.15, Curragh) is a fascinating newcomer for Ballydoyle in the Loder Irish EBF Fillies Race. A sister to Group One winners Magical and Rhododendron, Heaven Of Heavens will surely come on for the outing but is bred to be a good one.

There will be something of another new dawn at HQ this evening as Leopardstown boss Pat Keogh takes over his new role at the Curragh and there could be a great story to celebrate if Gordon Lord Byron (7.25, Curragh) can reel in the years and win for a 17th time on his 101st start.

Tom Hogan's veteran has been running with credit this season in good company and while it will be a big ask to beat the likes of Servalan and Buffer Zone, this might not be a vintage renewal of the Qatar Racing And Equestrian Club Phoenix Sprint Stakes. There's a chance that Gordon Lord Byron could just shade this.

Aidan Fogarty has enjoyed a good season with his string which has been enhanced by owner Con Marnane and Enough Said (8.0, Curragh) may well defy top weight in the penultimate race, while Lethal Power (8.35, Curragh) is the pick in the finale.

Irish Independent

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