Loughnane backing Bears to rise to Phoenix challenge
The three-year-old was last seen finishing second in the Group Three Hackwood Stakes at Newbury in July, coming home a length and a quarter behind Owen Burrows’ Minzaal.
Prior to that he was disappointing when 10th in Royal Ascot’s Commonwealth Cup, a run that looks an anomaly this season as he won the trial for that race and was placed in the Sandy Lane earlier in the term.
The colt has run twice at the Curragh previously, winning the Railway Stakes ahead of Castle Star last year before finishing third in the Group One Phoenix Stakes when beaten only a length by Ebro River.
“He’s been rock-solid all year apart from Royal Ascot, where he just didn’t turn up on the day for whatever reason,” said Loughnane.
“But he was very good in the Commonwealth Cup Trial prior to that and arguably the best race he has run in was the Hackwood last time, when he produced a very good run.”
The son of Kodi Bear will cross paths with Fozzy Stack’s Castle Star again, who has been seen once this term when fifth in the Sapphire Stakes, with fellow Tipperary trainer Joseph Murphy also represented as he runs Gustavus Weston.
The seasoned six-year-old won the race as a 16-1 shot in 2019 and returned last season to take the title again when beating Ger Lyons’ Power Under Me by two and a quarter lengths.
On both occasions the going was softer than the good conditions expected on Saturday and Murphy is hoping the ground gets no quicker before the race.
“He’s very well, he could do with just a drop of rain as he wouldn’t want firm in the name, good is fine for him,” he said.
“We hope he’ll come back to him himself, he’s drawn 12 and we’ll hope he’ll run a good race.
“You can’t judge it too much on that (his two past wins) but I’d be hoping for a good run from him.”
Power Under Me is in action again for Lyons after finishing third to Ken Condon’s Teresa Mendoza on his most recent outing in the Listed Dash Stakes at the Curragh in June.
The two horses will meet again at the same track at the weekend as Teresa Mendoza is one of a trio of entrants from Condon’s Kildare stable alongside Moss Tucker and Quarantine Dreams.
“Teresa Mendoza likes the Curragh and has a good record there,” he said.
“She’s been in good form this year, she ran a good race in York last time (fourth in the Summer Stakes) and she does enjoy the Curragh.
“She’s a Listed winner now and she’ll be running in Group races for the rest of the season, so hopefully she can run well.
“Moss Tucker is very much an improving horse and has got quicker and stronger with maturity.
“He has a rating of 100, he hasn’t run in a stakes race before but he’s hopefully one that can step up.
“He’s pretty ground versatile and into the autumn he’ll be better with cut in the ground. He’ll be aimed at those sort of stakes races but he’s certainly an improving horse and we’re looking forward to it.
“Quarantine Dreams had a couple of nice runs in sprint races in the springtime, I think six furlongs is probably perfect for him.
“He’ll be ridden a little bit colder this time than he was recently. He’s run well at the Curragh previously, so let’s hope he can run well again.”
Flying the flag for Britain is Hugo Palmer’s Dubawi Legend, third behind Minzaal and Go Bears Go in the Hackwood when tried over a sprint trip for the first time.
Clive Cox’s Wings Of War is another British contender and will be partnered by the in-form Hollie Doyle after coming home third in the Group Three Prix de Ris-Orangis at Deauville last time out.
Cox said: “I thought it was a really good run in France, I was very happy with that and he was back on track.
“He’d had a good run in the Sandy Lane, but he wasn’t helped by his draw in the Commonwealth Cup.
“He’s travelled over well to Ireland and I’m looking forward to suitable conditions, and I hope the track will suit as well.
“It’s a competitive race and I’m very happy that’s he’s travelled well, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Aidan O’Brien runs New York City, Group-placed and a Listed winner already this year, with Lyons’ Polonia Stakes winner Sacred Bridge and John Feane’s consistent Ano Syra completing the field.
The best videos delivered daily
Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox