Matt Brocklebank looks ahead to some choicely-bred juveniles running on a potentially informative card at the Curragh on Friday evening, featuring the Group One Phoenix Stakes.
5.15 Curragh – Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden
A new seven-furlong maiden at the Curragh in early August will inevitably set the Ballydoyle alarm bells ringing and it’s no surprise to see Aidan O’Brien targeting it.
He runs Paradiso, a full-brother to Churchill and Clemmie, who both excelled as juveniles. Both were beaten first time out though and it’s always a risk to expect big things from O’Brien juveniles on debut, but he’s clearly a Galileo colt with a tall reputation.
It's also worth noting the colts Ballydoyle had engaged at the five-day stage as they are clearly heading to a racecourse near you soon.
Mogul – a 3.4m guineas purchase – boats an outstanding pedigree being a Galileo colt out of Danehill mare Shastye, making him a brother Japan, Secret Gesture and Sir Isaac Newton.
The dam, a mile and a half winner herself, is a half-sister to Andre Fabre’s 1998 Arc winner Sagamix so Mogul has class coursing through his veins and, as you’d expect, the big-race autumn entries to match including the Champagne Stakes, Futurity Stakes and National Stakes, as well as next year's Investec Derby.
Nobel Prize, another with a long-term Derby entry, also has a fascinating page. He’s a Galileo colt out of the Danehill mare Hveger, meaning he's a full-brother to multiple Group One winner Highland Reel, Royal Ascot scorer Idaho and this year's Investec Derby Trial winner Cape Of Good Hope.
There’s no doubt Nobel Prize will probably be in need of another furlong or three to be seen at his very best in the fullness of time, but Idaho won first time out (1m) while Highland Reel struck over seven furlongs as a two-year-old, albeit on his third public outing, having won a mile maiden on his second start.
Persia is the third foal of Just Pretending, who was third in the Irish Oaks and has thus far produced the once-raced (unplaced) Fleeting Fancy and Visage, a dual winner in the French provinces.
The son of Galileo has the National Stakes and 2020 Derby entries to his name so is obviously one to take seriously with the future in mind.
Mythical isn’t by the mighty Galileo but his Derby-winning sire Camelot has already produced a string of high-class horses, including Irish Derby hero Latrobe.
He's the sixth foal out of Cape Cross mare Inchmina so he’s a half to 2013 Racing Post Trophy runner-up Johann Strauss. He made a 'mere' 280,000 euros from the Ecurie Des Monceaux stud in France, which has produced the likes of Irish Oaks winner Chicquita, Group One-winning two-year-old Ectot and Royal Ascot winner Charm Spirit among others.
6.15 Curragh – Loder Irish EBF Fillies Race
This went to the ill-fated Lady Kaya 12 months ago and Aidan O’Brien has won it a couple of times with How High The Moon and subsequent dual Group One winner Hydrangea, so it’s a race to note.
The obvious starting point, then, has to be newcomer Heaven Of Heavens, a Galileo filly out of Pivotal mare Halfway To Heaven, who won the Irish 1,000 Guineas in 2008 before going on to claim further Group One success in the Nassau Stakes and Sun Chariot Stakes.
It’s a superb family and Heaven Of Heavens is a full-sibling to Magical, Rhododendron and fellow Group-race winner Flying The Flag. Magical and Rhododendron, top-class at three, were sharp enough to win over seven furlongs as two-year-olds, although both were beaten narrowly on debut.
6.50 Curragh – Keeneland Phoenix Stakes
Martyn Meade was almost laughed out of town when he stated just how much he fancied Advertise to break Aidan O’Brien’s stranglehold heading into the Phoenix Stakes last summer.
The rest is history, of course, but roll on 12 months and it's interesting to see O'Brien responsible for three of the five declarations and yet not have the favourite.
Monarch Of Egypt, Royal Lytham and Mount Fuji will all get a mention as the master of Ballydoyle bids for a 17th success in this famous two-year-old feature but first, step forward Siskin.
Ger Lyons' First Defence colt seems certain to go off favourite, as he has done for his last two starts having won first time out at Naas at 2/1.
He took the Group Two Railway Stakes – via the Listed Marable Hill Stakes – in brilliant style from the re-opposing Monarch Of Egypt, coming home two and a half lengths to the good without Colin Keane having to get anything like serious in the saddle.
He’s got loads of boot and looks as straightforward as they come, but there is a case for Monarch Of Egypt bridging the gap.
Among the earliest winners for first-season sire American Pharoah – winner of the US Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup Classic – he was meant to be heading for Royal Ascot but suffered a minor setback and arguably looked a little ring-rusty following a 77-day layoff when second to Siskin.
The market vibes also left the impression he wasn’t quite a fever pitch for that race so it’ll be interesting to see just how he fares in the betting taking on Siskin off level weights again. He remains a fascinating prospect for Coolmore and influential American owner-breeder Peter Brant.
Mount Fuji hasn't really gone on since winning a Cork maiden first time out on May 22 and looks likely to put the pace to the race here, but Royal Lytham is creeping into it under the radar and could run well.
His July Stakes form has taken several knocks – all six of the horses he beat at Newmarket have been turned over since – but he was possibly value for a little bit more than the head verdict and he’s now 2-3 with his only defeat coming when seventh after a far from ideal run behind Arizona in the Coventry Stakes at Ascot.
It’s been said before this season, but Donnacha O’Brien’s mount should not be overlooked completely.