Sport Horse Racing

Thursday 23 January 2020

Versatile Kool leads Curragh field

Jockey Richard Hughes
Jockey Richard Hughes

Aisling Crowe

THE result of the final two-year-old Group One of the 2013 season at the Curragh and the outcome of the first juvenile Group One of this year at the Kildare track should be similar, but with subtle differences.

The owners, Middleham Park racing, and the jockey, Richard Hughes, who grew up across the road from the course, will be the common thread linking Toormore, 
winner of the National Stakes in 2013, with Kool Kompany, the most likely winner of this afternoon's Keeneland Phoenix Stakes. The subtle difference is that the training licence now bears the name of Richard Hannon junior, rather than his father Richard snr.

Much of the anticipation surrounding today's six-furlong contest hinges on the participation of ante-post favourite 
Anthem Alexander. Eddie Lynam's Queen Mary Stakes winner will not run if the anticipated deluge softens the ground but even without the rains, 
she would have difficulty getting the better of Kool Kompany.

The son of Jeremy disappointed when well beaten in the Coventry Stakes, but a change in tactics on his next start, in the Group Two Railway Stakes at the Curragh on Irish Derby weekend, saw a return to winning ways. He had Capella Sansevero and War Envoy well behind him that day, and Kool Kompany demonstrated his ground-versatility when winning the Group Two Prix Robert Papin at Maissons Lafitte on very soft ground last month.

Aidan O'Brien has been successful in six of the last 10 runnings of this race, but he might struggle to increase his dominance today. War Envoy has already been vanquished 
by Kool Kompany, and on breeding, Dick Whittington is unlikely to relish testing underfoot 
conditions, while The Great War perhaps has had his limitations exposed on his last two runs.

One who might go well at longer odds is the Kevin Prendergast-trained Beach Belle. The daughter of Beach Bunny, 
second in the Pretty Polly Stakes for Prendergast and Lady 
O'Reilly back in 2009, will have Jamie Spencer on board for the first time as she was recently bought by Qatar Racing.

Beach Belle impressed when winning the first two-year-old race of the season here in March, and followed up with success over six furlongs at Naas. She is held in high esteem by her trainer, who isn't afraid to pitch her against the colts this afternoon.

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