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 Bates.

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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, the first Group 1 for the juvenile in Ireland of the season, was impressively claimed by the son of No Ne Never as the Camus Park Stud and Summerhill-bred colt was a stylish seven-length winner of the race.

O’Brien admitted post-race that Little Big Bear gave them a scare before the race when he kicked a wall and a shoe clip went off his leg. Veterinarians examined the colt owned by Coolmore Partners and cleared the horse to run.

“He’s got a lot of speed, he’s strong and he’s strong. Ryan (Moore) said that when he let her go, it was over. He is progressing nicely from every run. We are here on the last day to come back for this race. Everything was very smooth. He loves the soil. It was a very good race.”

The Richard Hannon-trained Persian Force was second and Johnny Murtagh’s Sharetash was third. The race favourite, the previously unbeaten Bradsell from Archie Watson’s stable, lost ground at the start of the stall and was fourth.

Al Rifa (1/2f) takes the inaugural John Ormond Wexford Sand Irish EBF Maiden for jockey Dylan Brown McMonagle and trainer Joseph O’Brien. Incredibly for the Carriganóg-based handler it was the 1000th winner in his short training career.

Al Rifa, a teenage son of Wootton Bassett, was runner-up on debut over the course and distance on July 16, behind Coolmore’s partner-owned Hans Andersen.

Ecstasy brings a double for Joseph O’Brien as Declan McDonagh takes out the Sheehy Motors Volkswagen Handicap.

Billy Lee and Paddy Twomey team up with Shelton to win the Loader Irish EBF Fillies race (4/1). Mehmas’ daughter manned the midfield position in her first outing behind Vernet just a fortnight ago. This afternoon, the two-year-old chestnut filly was a length and a half winner over Basil Martini (7/2) from the Joseph O’Brien stable, with 10/1 shot Sweetest Hard Gare Lyons third home.

England-based Irish trainer David Loughnane had a successful campaign at The Curragh when Go Bear’s Go (11/4f) got back to winning ways with the Group 3 Rathausker Stud Phoenix Sprint Stakes.

Ridden by Rosa Ryan, the son of Cody Bear was runner-up to Minzal in a Group 3 at Newbury in his previous start. Three-year-old John Finn’s Ano Saira (12/1) was a length and a quarter in hand, with Sacred Bridge (7/1) from Ger Lyons Yard third best.

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

Gordon Bennett (7/4f) won the Donoghue Marquis Handicap over seven furlongs, while the final race, the AK Bets “High Limit, Good Price” Handicap, went to Big Gossie (15/8f).

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