Ante-Post Value – The Phoenix Stakes
Eleven runners stand their ground for Sunday’s Phoenix Stakes, a Group 1 for juveniles run over 6f at the Curragh. Edward Lynam’s having one hell of a season with his sprinters in particular and if the market is to be believed, as it so often is, Anthem Alexander is coming into this with a huge chance of giving the Meath-based trainer another top-level success.
She’s evidently a talent, her defeat of Tiggy Wiggy in the Group 2 Queen Mary at Royal Ascot is an indication of that, and in receipt of a few lbs from all of the boys, it’s little surprise that she’s at the top of market. However, there are question marks and the biggest of those are how she’ll cope with softer ground should rain arrive and how that’ll affect her over this extra furlong in distance.
It mightn’t matter a damn and she’ll pick them up and carry them anyway, but it’s a huge unknown at this point and the ground is currently listed as being yielding. There’s plenty of speed in her pedigree (visual impression suggests she’s exceptionally quick too), so the trip would be a minor worry even on fast ground and I’m thoroughly interested to see how she gets on if faced with a combination of 6f and softer ground at what is a stiff, demanding track.
Again, it may be pointless on my part to oppose her but it’s not hard to have a few doubts and current quotes of 11/8 are hardly enough to entice any of us in at the moment. I can see why some would fancy the chances of Dick Whittington for the Coolmore lads but he’s another who would like it to turn up on the fast side of good and until that happens, I’d be against him. The one I’m not against is Richard Hannon’s Kool Kompany, a two-time Group 2 winner who has only tasted defeat once in his six-race career to date.
He’s a really admirable sort who evidently takes his racing well and although disappointing in the Coventry at Royal Ascot when well-behind The Wow Signal despite going off as a 6/1 chance, he has proven that flop to be all wrong since by heading over to Ireland & France and winning the Railway Stakes (good-to-firm) & Prix Robert Papin (very soft). Neither piece of form would amount to anything mind-blowing, but it’s still better than most have achieved (all bar the favourite) and, barring disasters, you can be sure that he’ll run to a similar level again on Sunday. Whether that’s good enough to beat Anthem Alexander is debatable, I’m not sure, but it certainly could be if there’s an ease underfoot and it looks as if there will be one if the weather forecast is correct for a change. 11/4 is more than fair at the moment and I would be disappointed if he doesn’t give Lynam’s filly plenty to think about.
Selection for the Phoenix Stakes (4:05 Curragh; Sunday, 10th August):
Kool Kompany – 11/4, available with Paddy Power.
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