Phoenix Stakes Looks To Be Best Renewal For Some Seasons With Strong British Raiders

Phoenix Stakes

The Group One Keeneland Phoenix Stakes looks set to be a cracker on Sunday and could just turn out to be the best renewal of the last few years with some smart British Raiders making the trip over for the contest.

The big rivalry that will dominate the event is the rematch between The Lir Jet and Ventura Tormenta who are both set to feature in the Curragh event.

Last time out the Middleham Park owned Ventura Tormenta for Richard Hannon managed to get the better of Michael Bell's juvenile at Chantilly in the Group Two Prix Robert Papin.

Before that The Lir Jet gave his nemesis the beating in the Group Two Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot but the progression of both animals since their first run to now has been astonishing and they both look solid prospects for a crack at black type honours.

(Credit ATR) Hannon said: “Middleham Park were keen to take the race on because the Morny was already looking over-subscribed. I think this was a good opportunity for the horse to have a crack at a Group One. He has come back from France well and has never looked better.

“He has put on weight and the whole experience of France will have done his confidence a lot of good. I think the track at the Curragh will suit him and he is a very straightforward horse.

“I think he is joint top-rated going into the race and we are looking forward to seeing what he can do.

“He will be renewing his rivalry with The Lir Jet, which will be a challenge, while there will be some other nice horses in there, which you expect at this level.”

Other runners that could makeup the frame in the contest are the Michael O’Callaghan-trained Steel Bull who like Ventura Tormenta has been supplemented for the event at the cost of 20,000 euros off the back of his fine Group Three Molecomb Stakes win at Glorious Goodwood.

Aidan O'Brien will have a strong team in the event having won the race 16 times since 1988 and his best chances look to Richmond Stakes fourth Admiral Nelson, Curragh maiden runner-up St Mark’s Basilica, July Stakes fifth Swiss Ace and Mother Earth, who was third behind Aloha Star last time out.

All other declarations are still up in the air but come Friday we will know which two year olds head to post for the Group One.