Painted Cliffs An Each-Way Pearl
Sunday serves up a real treat for sprint enthusiasts courtesy of two cracking 6f events at the Curragh – the first of which is the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes for juveniles (3.50).
Air Force Blue For Ballydoyle
Won by the likes of Mastercraftsman, Holy Roman Emperor and George Washington during the last 10 years, this superb race has a knack of throwing up a potential star, especially if trained by Aidan O’Brien, who has another exciting prospect in Air Force Blue (5/2).
This colt won his debut over C&D prior to a date at Royal Ascot when a terrific 2l runner-up behind Buratino (15/8) in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes (6f, good to firm). It was a performance that marked Air Force Blue down as a possible star of the future, especially when stepped up in trip (16/1 for the 2,000 Guineas), as he is a full-brother to a 1m1f winner.
But, as for Sunday’s assignment, then Air Force Blue will need to improve again if reversing form with the impressive Buratino, who will take some stopping if in the same form.
Buratino To Make It Five?
Mark Johnston’s colt took his career record to 4-6 when winning at Ascot that day, quickening impressively to settle matters within a few strides. Also related to winners over 1m and beyond, Buratino may have Classic potential for next year if upped in trip.
Another tidy win on Sunday would no doubt see his ante-post odds for next year’s 2,000 Guineas tumble from 14/1, though connections will be hoping the Curragh dries out in time, as all of his best form has been on quick ground.
As for what the trends say, then it’s worth noting the outstanding record of Aidan O’Brien in this race…
Of the last 10 Phoenix Stakes winners…
10 ran in Ireland last time – 7 at the Curragh
10 ran during the last 16-45 days
9 won during their last three runs
9 won over 6f
9 won 31% or more of their career runs
8 were drawn in stall 4 or higher
7 were Irish-bred
A O’Brien won it seven times
The fact Aidan O’Brien won this race seven times informs that his two other runners, Painted Cliffs (9/2) and Washington DC (7/1), should not be overlooked.
The former especially was very impressive in winning a Group 2 over C&D last time (good) and remains an interesting prospect.
Elsewhere, David Wachman’s filly, Most Beautiful (9/1), has not done a lot wrong with a record of 2-3, and won’t be out of place having won a Group 3 over C&D last time (good).
An excellent renewal featuring six last time out winners, one of which is Painted Cliffs. Although bigger odds than stablemate Air Force One, he is officially rated the same as favourite, Buratino, and has to rate each-way value at 9/2.
*Prices correct at time of publication