4.15 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (Group 1) 6f
Apache Outlaw: Off the mark at the third time of asking when scoring at Fairyhouse and then took a significant step forward when third to Shartash in the Group 2 Railway Stakes over course and distance. Arguably could have finished closer to the winner that day given slight traffic problems late on and there may not be much between them again.
Blackbeard: Six starts already but he’s won four of them and claimed a rating of 115 courtesy of his latest win, a three-length beating of The Antarctic in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly. His stablemate runner-up boosted that form this week with a Group 3 win at Deauville.
That sets a fair standard but he does have a bit to prove as he has been beaten by three of his five rivals in his two losses and Ryan Moore has chosen to ride Little Big Bear.
Bradsell: Nine-length winner on debut at York and then ran out impressive winner of Coventry Stakes, having to race out towards the centre but having more than enough to account for Persian Force and Blackbeard in behind. Those two and others have shown that line of form to be really strong since, and he has the scope to improve further now, with this contest his prime season target.
Little Big Bear: Well hyped colt since the beginning of the season and has won all three starts since narrow maiden defeat. His Windsor Castle form is working out really well and he was noticeably smashed up in the betting prior to his impressive win in the Anglesey Stakes here last time. A similar performance will see him go close to extending his trainer’s excellent record in this race.
Persian Force: Three wins from four now with his only defeat coming at the hands of Bradsell in the Coventry. Good performance to bounce back in the July Stakes but slight concern over the strength of that form. Still well worth another go at his Ascot conqueror.
Shartash: Showed a really good attitude to come through a narrow gap and get up to nab Blackbeard in the Railway Stakes, a short-head victory to add to his nose win over Age Of Kings at Naas. He was weak in the betting for that latest win, so it bodes well that he won and given his breeding, he appeals as the most promising of these with regard to the future, with likely more to come over further. He might just be vulnerable today however.
At the time of writing, Little Big Bear is second in the betting to Bradsell but that could well change this morning and leading up to off time. The Ballydoyle colt has been hammered in the betting for all four of his starts, hinting at significant confidence in his ability, and he delivered on that here in the Anglesey Stakes. His Windsor Castle form is red hot, and he might just have too many guns for Bradsell, who deserves lots of respect after his impressive Coventry win.