LIFE is good for racing fans today as on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean two top class belters are set to stir the equine cockles.
In Ireland it’s Keeneland Phoenix Stakes Day — and a rematch between Bradsell, Persian Force and Blackbeard who were first, second and fourth in what now looks a cracking renewal of the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.Chappers is ready to pack a punch on yet another big Saturday of action[/caption]
And speaking of Keeneland, which hosts the 2022 Breeders’ Cup, US big guns Life Is Good and Olympiad clash in a corking Whitney Stakes at Saratoga.
I’ll be glued to Sky Sports Racing at 10.43pm for that smash-up.
The Phoenix usually throws up a good ‘un, and previous winners include Turtle Island, Johannesburg, ‘gorgeous’ George Washington and Mastercraftsman.
Chappers’ Saturday tips
Stone Soldier ew
Dusky Lord ew
State of Bliss ew
Berkshire Breeze ew
Sterling Knight ew
But this afternoon’s renewal has to go down as one of THE BEST ever, and will be beamed live on ITV.
As well as Bradsell, Persian Force and Blackbeard, also in the line-up is Little Big Bear, impressive in the Group 3 Anglesey after taking the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot, and Shartash, the Group 2 Railway Stakes hero when Blackbeard was just touched off in second.
Ryan Moore is on Little Big Bear but he says he would have been happy to ride either.
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I’m not sure he’s on the right one and I imagine Seamie Heffernan will be purring at the thought of riding Blackbeard.
Blackbeard, a 270,000gns purchase, is held on both his Coventry effort and by Shartash, but I suspect he’s better than those two runs suggest, and I’ll judge him more on a Prix Robert Papin success at Chantilly last time and an easy Marble Hill victory.
That said, he’ll have to improve on home soil from the Royal meeting when put in his place by Bradsell, tipped up that day at a tasty 8-1 in this column.
Archie Watson spoke openly to me about Bradsell — who cost just £47,000 — when I saw him at Yarmouth this week.
It’s clear the son of Tasleet works like a champion at home to the extent Watson struggles to find any horse — including a Group 1 winner like Glen Shiel — to give him a lead. Hollie Doyle is on top.
Persian Force is the apple of Richard Hannon’s eye and was beaten a length and a half at Ascot.
He then went to Newmarket and battled away well to fight off Show Respect in the Group 2 July Stakes.
You have to go back to 1992 for the last Hannon winner of the Phoenix in Pips Pride. It’s about time a stable so recognised for juvenile success banged in another!
Over in America the Grade 1 Whitney takes place over a mile and a furlong on dirt at Saratoga.
Life is Good, the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and subsequent Pegasus World Cup romper, will need to be at his best with a suspicion he might prefer a bit shorter.
Certainly the Todd Pletcher star failed to shine over ten furlongs in the Dubai World Cup.
Olympiad is a big threat as he bids for a five-timer for legendary handler Bill Mott on the back of a simple success in a Grade 2 at Churchill Downs.
This is the first time he has tackled Group 1 company but he deserves to take his chance.
Not that the Whitney is a two-horse race, as it also features the popular Hot Rod Charlie, once third in the Kentucky Derby and fourth behind Knicks Go in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The Doug O’Neill challenger was in front of Life is Good in Dubai and stays well, but I still think Life Is Good will be too classy under the super talented Irad Ortiz Jr.
Also today, of course, is the Shergar Cup where some of the best jockeys on the planet descend on Ascot and show us all what they can — and sometimes can’t — do.
Every year we get the Shergar Cup haters out on social media but it will be a full house at Ascot and the races look competitive.
It will all be good fun, especially with crowd-pleaser Frankie back in it. Enjoy.
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