Another Star For O’Brien – Weekend Racing Review

The Curragh took centre stage at the weekend courtesy of two cracking sprints which took place on Sunday, the most informative of which was the Group 1 Phoenix sprint for juveniles – a race that has in the past thrown up plenty of future Classic winners.

Aidan O’Brien was responsible for several of the aforementioned Phoenix winners who went onto greater achievements, and he could have another star on his hands via Dick Whittington, who just got the better of a tough tussle with Kool Kompany.

While the odds suggested Kool Kompany would triumph, Dick Whittington showed quality in knuckling down to get in front, and this son of Rip Van Winkle is now 25/1 for next season’s 2,000 Guineas.

In the ‘other’ Phoenix sprint for older runners, Scream Blue Murder caused a 20/1 shock for Tommy Stack in a 1-2 for Ireland. The favourite, Maarek, was unable to defy a penalty following a 78-day absence in finishing fifth, but should not be written off for some of the autumn sprints as he is likely to be sharper next time.

Another who should be fitter next time is Flight Risk, who caught the eye finishing fourth just ahead of Maarek. As the only 3yo, he did well to be beaten just under 2l on just his second career run. Jim Bolger’s colt looks to have a decent sprint in him this autumn, especially as this was his seasonal reappearance.

At a lower level, Gone Viral appeared in a decent mile handicap following the Phoenix Sprint, and also caught the eye making good late progress into second behind the all-the-way winner. Blocked in his run, Gone Viral could well gain compensation next time following this first outing for three months.

Elsewhere, while golf’s Rory McIlroy was winning his fourth Major in the United States, Europe managed to defeat the Americans in defending the Shergar Cup at Ascot.

While there weren’t any Group events staged at Ascot, there were still a number of interesting performances in terms of the future, including Bondesire in the 5f handicap. This improving 4yo filly enjoyed the mud by finishing strongly into fourth, and could be a candidate for something like the Ayr Gold Cup next month where the ground is likely to be on the soft side.

Hassle looked the one to take from the Shergar Cup 2m handicap, as he was given a lot to do in being held up at the back of the field before staying on nicely into third. A winner of four of his seven previous races, this progressive sort can get back on the scoresheet in a more strongly run race.

Over at Newmarket, Muraaqaba won the Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakes and is now around 25/1 for the 1,000 Guineas, though she will need to show more before being considered as a realistic contender, while in France, Garswood showed improvement in taking the Group 1 Maurice de Gheest over 6½f, and will head back for the Prix de la Foret on Arc weekend in early October.