There's plenty to look forward to at the Curragh on Sunday and Irish Eyes has previewed the top-class action including three selections.
Recommended bets: Curragh, Sunday
3pts win Sioux Nation in 3.35 Curragh at 100/30 - Norfolk Stakes winner looks sure to carry on improving
1pt win Mendelssohn in 2.30 Curragh at 13/8 - held in high regard and significant progress can be expected
1pt win Sizzling in 3.00 Curragh at 11/10 - trainer has dominated the race and the odds-on quotes worth snapping up
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Keeneland Phoenix Stakes day traditionally belongs to Aidan O’Brien – he has farmed the feature race on no less than 15 occasions, but this year it is Gordon Elliott that supplies the favourite for Europe’s first Group One for two-year-olds, in the shape of the unbeaten Railway Stakes winner Beckford.
Elliott has some notable achievements in 2017, none more so than when becoming leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival for the first time in March, but he will take his career to a whole new level if he manages to become only the fourth trainer - other than O’Brien - to add his name to the roll of honour for this race since 1998.
Beckford won on debut at this track and returned to the Curragh to take the Railway in great style earning a Timeform rating of 113p, just behind their current leading two-year-old Expert Eye on 114p so it is understandable that he finds himself favourite for this race.
However, it is difficult to say he rates as a value bet at as short as evens and it is easy to make a case for SIOUX NATION deserving to be shorter than he is.
The early shows of 6/1 have gone but the current 100/30 (Paddy Power, Coral) is much too big for what he has achieved to date, albeit he has 7lb to find with the favourite on official ratings.
As is the case with plenty of the O’Brien string, it took him three runs to win his maiden but he was very impressive at Cork that day when thrashing a good yardstick in Yulong Warrior. He disappointed in the Marble Hill on his next start but was very slowly away that day and that can be attributed to the yielding to soft conditions.
Good to firm was much more to his liking on his next start and despite it being a significant step up in class, he won the Group Two Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. The form of that race has worked out well with the third home, Cardsharp, going on to win the Group Two July Stakes at Newmarket and the subsequent Molecomb Stakes winner at Goodwood, Havana Grey, back in 10th place.
Beckford may or may not be able to replicate his best form on the prevailing ground but we know that Sioux Nation can so he gets the vote at the prices.
O’Brien not only won the Phoneix Stakes on last year’s card but he also took the Loder Irish EBF Fillies’ Race and the Anglesey Lodge Equine Hospital Irish EBF Maiden and the chances are he can repeat the feat.
MENDELSSOHN is, like Sioux Nation, another son of Scat Daddy but he looked very moderate on his first start here last month, finishing eighth of 13 beaten over 16 lengths.
However, he remains highly thought of at Ballydoyle, as his recent entry for the Champagne Stakes attests to, and if he improves for the debut as plenty of his stablemates have done this season, he could prove good enough.
Joe Murphy has his string in amazing form and Swiss Cottage deserves favouritism but if they go a good pace, there has to be a doubt about the son of Swiss Spirit (out of a College Chapple mare) staying this trip at two.
The four unraced horses are impossible to judge for now but none of them currently hold entries outside of maiden company at two so by process of elimination, Mendelssohn gets the vote.
SIZZLING bids to give her trainer a hat-trick in the juvenile fillies race (and five wins in six years) and she could emulate last year’s winner Hydrangea in time.
She was slowly away and stayed on for an eye-catching third behind stablemate and subsequent Silver Flash winner Happily, one of the best two-year-old fillies seen in Ireland this year.
On her second start, she was beaten a length at Newmarket’s July meeting by Poetic Charm and on her third start she faced an impossible task from the widest draw at Galway last week but nevertheless still ran a good third.
This is always a good race but she looks to have the best credentials in this year's renewal.
Posted at 1725 BST on 12/08/17.