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Phoenix Stakes Runner-By-Runner Guide – Juvenile Group 1 Is Race Of The Weekend

You will struggle to find a better juvenile Group 1 this year than the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh. The super six who make up the field are analysed below, alongside SkyBet‘s latest offer where new customers can claim £30 In Free Bets when placing any bet.

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APACHE OUTLAW (Joseph O’Brien, Declan McDonogh) 66/1

Comfortably the rank outsider in the field despite relatively consistent displays in four starts to date. Off the mark at third attempt at Fairyhouse after placed efforts in very competitive maidens, then ran a big race to be third to Shartash when also a big price in the Curragh’s Group 2 Railway Stakes. While that was a great run, it gives him ground to find on the other two outsiders in the field, let alone the fancied ones. Needs a big leap of improvement.

BLACKBEARD (Aidan O’Brien, Seamie Heffernan) 6/1

Highest-rated horse in the field, but that may owe more to him having raced the most more than an indicator of ability. Won his first three starts really well, including a Group 3 over course and distance before fourth to Bradsell in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. Also beaten, albeit very narrowly, by Shartash in the Railway Stakes before gaining his own Group 2 win in France last time. Level he had to reach that day is questionable, while has nearly four lengths to find on the favourite, as well as ground to make on Persian Force.

Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (Group 1)

Today’s Racing

BRADSELL (Archie Watson, Hollie Doyle) 6/4

Would be a tremendous underdog success given he was bought for just £12,000 as a yearling. Stormed to a nine-length victory on debut before scorching down the middle of the track for his Coventry Stakes success. Form of that race has worked out sensationally and he did it with 1½ lengths to spare too. Very little to crab him about other than perhaps being on the right side of the draw at Ascot, but there is no definitive proof of that while he could easily improve again. Hollie Doyle deserts her place in the Shergar Cup to ride.

LITTLE BIG BEAR (Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore) 5/2

Beaten on debut, but has been absolutely sensational since. Ran over 6f on first start which seemingly convinced trainer to drop him to 5f, over which he won at Naas and then Royal Ascot in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes. Not short of speed, but debut defeat may have been a false dawn, as he looks like powering on over further. Stepped back up to 6½f at this track to land the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes in splendid style and was finishing tremendously. Looks a monster, but there may be a few in this field.

PERSIAN FORCE (Richard Hannon, Rossa Ryan) 5/1

Stormed to a wide-margin victory in the Brockelsby on debut, scooting clear by 4¾ lengths. Marked himself as one of the most impressive winners of that contest and swiftly followed up at Newbury. Found only Bradsell too good in the Coventry Stakes when taking just a little too long to fire up and was not averse to that at Newmarket last time. Was simply too good in the Group 2 July Stakes that day, but may want this run at a serious gallop, as he may take a little longer to move up through the gears. Nevertheless, not a forlorn hope in overturning form with the favourite.

Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (Group 1)

SHARTASH (Johnny Murtagh, Ben Coen) 4/1

Perhaps more of an unknown quantity in this field after his three runs so far. Not disgraced on debut and has since made a habit of narrowly upsetting Ballydoyle runners. First beat that stable’s Age Of Kings by a nose at Naas, then returned in Group 2 company over course and distance in June. Defeated Blackbeard by a short head in the Railway Stakes that day, but had to wait for a gap and probably did well to win. Value for more than that and a surprise he’s a significantly bigger price than the runner-up.


Neither LITTLE BIG BEAR or Bradsell has really done anything wrong in top company so far and preference for the former is narrow. Having won so impressively at the track last time and with the race likely to be run to suit, he may just have a more powerful kick. However, Bradsell has already surprised with his talent given he was not the most expensive purchase as a yearling or two-year-old, while Persian Force is a top juvenile in his own right and is not completely ruled out either.

Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (Group 1)

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