Phoenix Stakes Preview: Jet to fly to Curragh glory

The Lir Jet impressed when winning the Norfolk Stakes in June.
The Lir Jet impressed when winning the Norfolk Stakes in June.

Steve Chambers previews the 2020 Phoenix Stakes, which sees some exciting juveniles lining up for Group 1 glory at the Curragh...

Michael O'Callaghan's Steel Bull unleashed a blistering turn of foot in the closing stages of the Molecomb Stakes to land Group 2 success at Glorious Goodwood, and the exciting juvenile will attempt to make it three wins from three career starts on Sunday by bagging success in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh.

O'Callaghan supplemented his star juvenile earlier in the week, and Steel Bull shaped like he could be a top class sprinter over the coming years. Stalking the pace in the Molecomb, Colin Keane had to bide his time and wait for an opening to unleash Steel Bull's surge for victory, but once the gap opened the son of Clodovil put on the after burners and scooted clear of his rivals to win in fine fashion, and a repeat of that effort will certainly see him go close.

There's no denying the impressive manner in which Steel Bull put the race to bed at Goodwood, but the level of opposition was significantly inferior to what he has to face this weekend, and he could just prove vulnerable to a classier rival in what is sure to be a hugely competitive renewal of the Curragh showpiece.

There's a strong British challenge in the 2020 renewal, with Michael Bell's The Lir Jet and Richard Hannon's Ventura Tormenta both looking major players if performing to the height of their abilities. The former was impressive when winning at Yarmouth on debut before going on to sparkle in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. Getting his head in front in the shadow of the post, The Lir Jet reeled in the classy Golden Pal that day and a repeat of that effort would see him on the vicinity here.

However, he suffered his first defeat on his last outing, where he was beaten by the aforementioned Ventura Tormenta in the Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly. A short-head winner that day, Ventura Tormenta had previously found life tough over seven furlongs when beaten in the Superlative Stakes, but a drop back in trip and Sunday's six furlong test should prove ideal for him. 

It will prove to be a fascinating duel once again between the two British raiders, but while Ventura Tormenta came out on top last time out, it's The Lir Jet that makes most appeal. Having gone for home early in France last time out, The Lir Jet may just be held on to that little longer and look to emulate his Royal Ascot win by striking late to claim the honours, and while he may have the same plan as Steel Bull to strike late, it's The Lir Jet that may just be able to maintain his finishing surge for longer, and he is the one to side with.

Aidan O'Brien has dominated the Phoenix Stakes in recent times, amassing a whopping 16 wins in the race, but the master of Ballydoyle hasn't trained the winner since 2017, so he will be hoping he can get back on the winning thread and will saddle a three-pronged attack.

Admiral Nelson will spearhead the triumvirate and having won impressively on debut he was destined to be the next juvenile star off the O'Brien production line. Sent off the 5/2 favourite for the Coventry Stakes, Admiral Nelson could only finish eighth and then disappointed again when fourth in the Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. With winning form at the Curragh then you can't discount him in Sunday's Phoenix Stakes, and if he proves popular in the market then could well be worth backing, but on the face of it he may just be vulnerable to a more consistent rival.

On the contrary, O'Brien's second raider Giorgio Vasari has racked up a brace of victories on the bounce and heads into this event in fine form. But, this is a lot tougher than his last outing at Naas, and it's arguably O'Brien's third string that makes the most appeal as St Mark's Basilica is having his second career start. He shaped with promise when second at the Curragh on debut - staying on eye-catchingly well under hands and heels - and if he can build on that first outing, like most of O'Brien's runners do, then he could well be a thorn in the side of the leading fancies.

Laws Of Indices got the better of Lucky Vega when they met in the Group 2 Railway Stakes last time out, and they both take their chance here. Unfancied at 66/1 for that Railway success, Laws Of Indices will need to cause another upset on Sunday, and he may just lack the class of some of his rivals, and it's The Lir Jet that makes most appeal in a truly fascinating renewal.

Phoenix Stakes
The Lir Jet silk

The Lir Jet

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