One of the very best juvenile sprint contests of the season takes place this coming weekend, as the Curragh plays host to the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes on Sunday afternoon. One of the most historic Group contests of the Irish racing year, having made its debut way back in 1902, a win here can be a pointer of big things to come. The ground at the track is currently described as good to firm, and with only minimal rain forecast, this shouldn’t change too much come the day of the race.

Race Analysis

The name of Gordon Elliott will be familiar to racing fans, but perhaps not for his prowess with juvenile sprinters. The Gold Cup winning handler is far from a one-trick pony though and he sends out the favourite here in the form of Beckford. Arriving as the only unbeaten colt in the field, with his two wins to date having come over this very course and distance, he landed a Group 2 last time by a comfortable length, and having still displayed greenness that day, there may well be more to come.

No man has experienced more success here than the living legend that is Aidan O’Brien. The master of Ballydoyle has claimed 15 of the 19 previous editions of this and surely won’t relinquish the title he won with Caravaggio in 2016 without a fight.

O’Brien has seven amongst the current entries with July Stakes runner up, US Navy Flag and Norfolk Stakes winner, Sioux Nation, most prominent in the betting. With US Navy Flag now 0 from 2 in Group company, and Sioux Nation having bombed out on his only previous course and distance run, they may have work to do here. Fleet Review boasts an appealing pedigree, being by War Front and out of a Galileo mare. He looks the most interesting of the other O’Brien runners, but may be seen to best effect over 7f.

Of the others, Ken Condon’s Romanised has made a most encouraging start to his career, following up his debut win with a close seventh in the Coventry Stakes. He shaped a bit better than his finishing position that day and certainly looks worth a crack at this.

Tom Dascombe’s Frozen Angel may prove the best of the British raiders. Already placed at Listed and Group 2 level over 5f, his efforts have suggested that improvement may well be possible when stepped up to 6f. The son of Dark Angel shouldn’t be too far away once again.

Betting Tips

It’s a risky business opposing O’Brien here, but we can’t get away from Beckford. Already a comfortable winner at Group 2 level, he boasts just about the best form in the race, and significantly looks more open to further improvement than most on what will be just his third career start. Keep thing simple and back the jolly at evens with Betfair.