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Little Big Bear impresses in Keeneland Phoenix Stakes


Little Big Bear won the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh today for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore. Credit: David Betts.

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Little Big Bear gave Aidan O’Brien another winner of the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh this afternoon.

The Group 1 contest over six furlongs, Ireland’s first Group 1 of the season for juveniles, was impressively claimed by the son of No Nay Never as the Camas Park Stud and Summerhill-bred colt ran out a stylish seven-length winner of the race.

O’Brien admitted post-race that Little Big Bear gave them a scare prior to the race when he kicked a wall and the clip of the shoe went into his foot. Vets checked the Coolmore partners-owned colt and allowed the horse to run.

“He has a lot of speed, he’s powerful and he’s strong. Ryan (Moore) said that when he let him go, it was over. He has been progressing lovely from every run. We came here the last day with a view to coming back for this race. Everything had gone very smooth. He loves the ground. It was a very good race.”

The Richard Hannon-trained Persian Force was second while Johnny Murtagh’s Shartash took third. The race favourite, the previously unbeaten Bradsell from Archie Watson’s stable, finished fourth, having lost early ground on leaving the stalls.

Al Riffa (1/2f) took the opening John Ormonde Wexford Sand Irish EBF Maiden for jockey Dylan Browne McMonagle and trainer Joseph O’Brien. Incredibly it was a 1000th winner in his short training career for the Carriganóg-based handler.

Al Riffa, a juvenile son of Wootton Bassett, was runner-up on debut over course and distance on 16 July, behind the well-touted Coolmore partners-owned Hans Andersen.

In Ecstasy brought up a double for Joseph O’Brien when taking the Sheehy Motors Volkswagen Handicap in the hands of Declan McDonagh.

Billy Lee and Paddy Twomey teamed up to win the Loder Irish EBF Fillies race with Shelton (4/1). The daughter of Mehmas only managed a midfield position on her first outing behind Vernet a fortnight ago. This afternoon, the two-year-old chestnut filly was a one and a half length victor over Basil Martini (7/2), from the Joseph O’Brien stable, with 10/1 shot Sweetest Heard third home for Ger Lyons.

The England-based Irish trainer David Loughnane made a successful raid on The Curragh as Go Bears Go (11/4f) got back to winning ways, taking the Group 3 Rathasker Stud Phoenix Sprint Stakes.

Ridden by Rossa Ryan, the son of Kodi Bear was runner-up to Minzaal in a Group 3 at Newbury on his previous start. The three-year-old had a length and a quarter in hand on John Feane’s Ano Syra (12/1), with Sacred Bridge (7/1) from the Ger Lyons yard next best in third.

Cairo (16/5) was an eye-catching runner-up to Wave Machine (5/2f) in the John Ormonde Gallop & Arena Construction Irish EBF Maiden over six furlongs. The winning Wave Machine, handled by Johnny Murtagh, got the better of the debuting son of Quality Road, Cairo, by a head. The pair put a length and a half between themselves and third-placed Mount Ruapehu (28/1).

Gordon Bennett (7/4f) won the Donoghue Marquees Handicap over seven furlongs, while the final race, the AK Bets “Higher Limits, Better Prices” Handicap, went to Big Gossey (15/8f).

Also down at the Dingle Pony racing Kian Tubs McNally rode one of the nicest winners you will ever see.

 

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