Phoenix Stakes Tips: Bear to roar to Group 1 glory at the Curragh

Aidan O'Brien bids for a staggering 17th win in the Phoenix Stakes
Aidan O'Brien bids for a staggering 17th win in the Phoenix Stakes

A stellar sextet will line up for the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes, which takes place at the Curragh on Saturday afternoon, and legendary Irish handler Aidan O'Brien will bid for an astonishing 17th victory in the 6f showpiece, and our man Steve Chambers fancies the master of Ballydoyle to reign supreme once again...

Unleashing a dual-pronged attack at the 2022 Phoenix Stakes, Aidan O'Brien will saddle the hugely progressive Little Big Bear and the classy juvenile Blackbeard, and both will line up this weekend with a huge chance of claiming the coveted crown, which can often provide some potential clues for next year's 2000 Guineas.

LITTLE BIG BEAR is the shorter price of the pair and having won the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot in fine style, the son of No Nay Never then went on from that Listed win by storming to glory in a Group 3 event at the Curragh last time out. Romping nearly five lengths clear at the finish, the hugely exciting youngster shaped like he could well become a real top class prospect over the next couple of seasons for the O'Brien team and while he will need to improve again he has to be the spearhead of the O'Brien charge.

Currently a 5/2 chance with the bookmakers, Little Big Bear is a lot more fancied than Blackbeard, who is 6/1, but that O'Brien raider was last seen landing a Group 2 prize in France last time out, and he will be another son of No Nay Never lining up here.  Fourth in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, Blackbeard put in a career best last time out when winning at Chantilly, but he will have the small matter of trying to reverse the aforementioned Coventry form with Bradsell, who won that Royal Ascot Group 2 and he is the market leader at 7/4 here.

Archie Watson's Bradsell produced one of the most visually impressive debuts by a two-year-old this season when bounding to a nine-length success at York on debut, and the son of Tasleet used that as a springboard to victory in the Coventry, and now the 7/4 favourite will aim to land a first Group 1 prize for connections.

A star field of two-year-olds in the Coventry saw Bradsell prevail in fine style, as he beat Persian Force by one-and-a-half lengths and that pair will do battle again here, as Richard Hannon's raider adds more depth to a strong British team heading across the Irish Sea for the Curragh showpiece.

Persian Force stayed on that day to finish second in the Coventry, but Bradsell had pulled comfortably clear and while Persian Force came out and won the July Stakes at Newmarket in fine style, he will need to have improved again to lay a glove on Bradsell who certainly sets the standard here, but could prove vulnerable to the first rate Little Big Bear, who is the value play here.

Johnny Murtagh's Shartash is an interesting contender as having won at Naas narrowly he then went and stormed to victory in the Group 2 Railway Stakes, where he edged out Blackbeard narrow. With Shartash available at 9/1 with Blackbeard available at 6s then the value lies with Murtagh's raider of the pair, but both will need to improve.

Joseph O'Brien's Apache Outlaw is the 66/1 outsider and on all form he looks to face a huge uphill battle in a race his father can prevail in yet again with Little Big Bear, who could turn into the next flagbearer of the Ballydoyle team.

Phoenix Stakes
Little Big Bear silk

Little Big Bear

Today's Horse Racing Tips
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