The Phoenix Stakes is the feature at the Curragh this afternoon and Tony Keenan looks ahead to what's in store on the card...
"Dragon Roll and Fulminate are the two winners in the Loder Irish EBF (Fillies) Race but conditions don’t set up well for them as they have to concede upwards of four pounds to their rivals and in any case Lady Kaya looks to have the best form on offer judged by her debut third."
Martyn Meade piqued the attention of a few with his uber-bullishness about Advertise in the Phoenix Stakes; for some it was a touch disrespectful towards Aidan O'Brien who has won the race 16 times. But I suspect that is just Meade's way - he had been similarly confident about Eminent ahead of his big races - and in any case he may be on to something. This has not been a great campaign for Ballydoyle with some of their runners below par and while strike rates don't really reflect that the trainer himself has talked about how his horses are just coming back to form now, the yard almost seeking to reset the season from here on out.
So there is opportunity for Meade (and Jessica Harrington with Indigo Balance) in this afternoon's feature and you can make a case for Advertise being favourite over Sergei Prokofiev. There may have been nothing between them in the Coventry but the UK challenger has taken a slight step forward since while the composer has been on the sidelines.
Dragon Roll and Fulminate are the two winners in the Loder Irish EBF (Fillies) Race but conditions don't set up well for them as they have to concede upwards of four pounds to their rivals and in any case Lady Kaya looks to have the best form on offer judged by her debut third. The break since was due to the ground being too fast - she had sore shins after that run - but a recent entry at Galway suggests she should be ready for this and it is a positive she has been entered in the Moyglare since her first outing.
On that occasion she did well to get within a length of Decrypt (rated a pattern performer by his trainer) despite that one having both experience and the run of the race; she was the only one to get into it from off the pace and posted fast closing sectionals in what was a decent overall time anyway. Her yard has been in good form and while Pink Dogwood is a potential danger, she will need to run to fair level first time to take this.
An official rating of 111 has Spirit Of Valor clear of the field but his time-figures don't really support that mark, others having achieved a broadly similar level, and he struggles to win when not allowed to dominate. Perhaps he will do that here but there is some other pace in the race with Gorane and Gordon Lord Byron.
It is the first-named of those that looks most overpriced. She has run to a consistently high level all four starts in 2018, doing well to finish a close fifth behind Havana Grey, Caspian Prince and Mabs Cross in the Sapphire last time, and with no UK runners this is not the strongest race. She seemed to prove her stamina for this trip when second to Actress in June and with her consistency it might be better to shade the bet towards the place market.
Medal Of Honour might be the most interesting horse in the finale as his course-and-distance win here in May stands out; on that occasion, he blew away a fair field - a few of whom re-oppose on disadvantageous terms - with a sharp turn-of-foot, looking like a horse that could follow up off 91. The problem is that the rest of his career has been pretty mediocre and his last race at Leopardstown was disappointing, allowing that it wasn't run to suit. I would just prefer a little bigger about him than is currently available.
Scoil Naisunta also has to overcome a disappointing run last time and it was only on Wednesday at Sligo but there were excuses; she got shuffled back early off a slow pace and could never get back into a race where the pacesetter got an easy time. She is better judged on her Naas win pre-Galway which looks good form now, the second Ice Cold In Alex winning either side of that race and the fourth Turbine a shade unlucky not to win the big seven-furlong handicap at Ballybrit. A mile is much more her trip than the 12 furlongs she raced over last time and while it isn't ideal that she backs up so quickly, she didn't have a hard race by any means.
The rank outsider Ahlan Bil Zain is worth a small saver. There has been promise in both his last two runs, hampered briefly on his penultimate start at Fairyhouse when making his challenge and forced onto the ill-favoured part of the track before travelling well here last time and never getting racing room. The handicapper has given him a chance as a result, dropping him eight pounds in just three runs since arriving in Ireland, and that could be enough to make him competitive.
Tony Keenan 2018 P/L
1 Point Back Lady Kaya @ [3.5] or bigger in the Curragh 15:00
0.5 Point Back Gorane @ [11.0] or bigger in the Curragh 16:10
1.5 Point Place Back Gorane @ [2.8] or biggerin the Curragh 16:10
1 Point Back Scoil Naisunta @ [12.0] or bigger in the Curragh 17:15
0.5 Point Back Ahlan Bil Zain @ [17.0] or bigger in the Curragh 17:15