Trainer Charlie Hills believes Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Phoenix Of Spain can return to form when reopposing Too Darn Hot and co in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood next week.
The grey colt out of Lope De Vega confirmed his juvenile promise when scoring on his seasonal comeback in the opening Irish classic of the season at the Curragh.
He comfortably got the better of champion two-year-old Too Darn Hot who finished second - though in his defence, the son of Dubawi had just run in the Dante seven days before at York.
However, he could not improve on that effort in the St James's Palace Stakes when a well beaten sixth by Circus Maximus - and was nowhere near Too Darn Hot (third), who has since come out and returned to winning ways himself in the Prix Jean Prat at Deauville.
The Lord Lloyd Webber-owned colt is currently priced as the 5/4 favourite with most firms, whilst Phoenix Of Spain fights out second favouritism with the former's stablemate King Of Comedy.
Phoenix Of Spain's trainer Charlie Hills is not worried about the ante-post prices.
(Credit: AtTheRaces) He said: “I can’t see a reason why we could not beat Too Darn Hot again.
“I was impressed by him [TDH] last time in France, and he is a horse with a lot of speed.
"I think we will see on the day which tactics to use. We wouldn’t want a slow pace. We’ve had a good chance to freshen him up – he has had two weeks going quiet, and his weight is very good.
“He did a nice piece of work at the weekend,and we managed to get him on the grass – which was important. I think Goodwood could be a good place for him.”
Reflecting on his defeat at the royal meeting, Hills - also looking forward to unleashing Battaash in the King George Stakes, believes the soft ground got the better of the three-year-old.
“Coming into the two, he was travelling well, and I thought he was going to pick up and go away.
“He probably just floundered in that ground. It was horrible conditions for that race – it was loose on top, and he didn’t handle that surface too well.
“All his best performances have been on fast ground, and I think that is what he needs.”
The step-up in trip could be on the itinerary list for Phoenix Of Spain following his visit to the Sussex Downs next week.
The three-time career winner holds entries in the Juddmonte International at York and the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes - both of which over the extended ten furlongs.
Hills said: “I’d like to think we would go 10 furlongs later in the year – but at this stage I would like to win a couple more mile races.
“If we could win a couple more Group Ones he could hopefully be a champion.”