Dick Whittington and Joseph O’Brien (left) win by half a length
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Report: Curragh, Sunday
Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (Group 1) 6f, 2yo
DICK WHITTINGTON proved more than able to handle slower ground as the colt showed plenty of tenacity to defeat Kool Kompany.
A stewards’ inquiry was called as there was contact between the first and second as the race unfolded, but the placings were left unaltered.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien has won six of the last ten runnings of the Phoenix Stakes, and although he halved his challenge to the race just hours before the race, of the two horses he did leave in, Dick Whittington proved up to the task.
Heavy downpours through the day at the Curragh had led to significant non-runners, with favourite Anthem Alexander taken out before O’Brien scratched The Great War and War Envoy.
That left I Am Beautiful and Dick Whittington for the Ballydoyle team, with Joseph O’Brien taking over on Dick Whittington from Colm O’Donoghue.
I Am Beautiful led, with favourite Kool Kompany and Cappella Sansevero tracking the pace. Approaching two out, Richard Hughes angled Kool Kompany out to start making a challenge, but found O’Brien and Dick Whittington on his outside.
There was contact between the pair as Hughes fought his way out, and the challengers fanned out across the track, with Cappella Sansevero also hanging tough.
Going to the line Dick Whittington managed to find a little bit more, the 6-1 shot beating 8-11 favourite Kool Kompany by half a length, with Cappella Sansevero third.
Bookmaker reaction to the win was fairly muted, with quotes for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas for Dick Whittington ranging from 20-1 to 25-1.
O’Brien said: “He’s a tough, hardy horse and he showed that today. The ground wasn’t ideal but he handled it well. The way he won today you’d have to think he’ll get a mile. He’s had a busy time of it and we won’t be in a panic to make plans.”
Richard Hannon was not too deflated following Kool Kompany’s defeat, and said: “He’s run a super race. It’s a shame he got run out of it near the finish but otherewise we’re very pleased. He’s a good horse and there will be other days. He’s in the Middle Park but we’ll wait and see.”
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