Caravaggio different class as he slams Phoenix rivals

Caravaggio followed his Coventry Stakes win with victory at the Curragh

PICTURE: Patrick McCann ( Caravaggio different class as he slams rivals By Peter Scargill 3:39PM 7 AUG 2016

Report: Curragh, Sunday

Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (Group 1) 6f, 2yo

CARAVAGGIO is fast, his trainer Aidan O'Brien has always said, and he looked to be going a different gear to his rivals throughout as he thumped them to win this Group 1 without coming off the bridle.


  • Keeneland Phoenix Stakes result
  • Phoenix Sprint Stakes result

Sent off the 1-8 favourite and with far superior form to his overmatched rivals, Caravaggio breezed into contention with a furlong-and-a-half to go and was merely nudged clear to win for jockey Seamie Heffernan.

Reputation and form combined to scare off most of the rivals to Caravaggio, whose superb win in the Coventry Stakes has been franked by the performances of Mehmas and Yalta since.

And in the end it was little more than a piece of work for Caravaggio, albeit you could not be helped but be impressed by how he won. Stablemate Courage Under Fire made the running before Caravaggio moved through and settled matters with the minimum of fuss.

"It's about speed and class and he's not short of either," Heffernan said. "There was plenty left today. He always showed a lot and he's never disappointed."

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Market reaction

He became a scarcely believable 15th winner of the race for O'Brien and was cut to a general 5-2 favourite (from 3) for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas. Paddy Power remained unchanged at 4-1 for the race.

Paddy Power's view may be influenced by the record of O'Brien's recent winners in the first Classic of the season. Only George Washington has followed up his Phoenix Stakes win with Classic glory, with the likes of hotshots One Cool Cat and Air Force Blue beaten.

The need for speed

The Guineas trip is sure to be a hotly debated subject when it come to Caravaggio, and even O'Brien is unsure about how he will handle it.

"He has a lot of speed and speed has always been his thing," O'Brien said. "When they have that pace you're never sure how far they're going to stay but everything is right with him; he has a good mind, he's a good mover and has good wind. All the things are in his favour.

"He did 45mph on the gallops at home the other day and we'd never have a horse do that before in work so that tells you the pure, raw pace he has. It would worry me, obviously [in terms of getting further]. But he has things in his favour like I said that are pluses."

He added: "We'll leave him at six for now and only try him over further when we have to. The lads will think what to do next but the [Prix Morny] is an option or maybe the Middle Park."

Also on Sunday

Curragh: Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club Phoenix Sprint (Group 3) 6f, 3yo+

WHILE Caravaggio's light shone brightly at the Curragh, Air Force Blue's was dull and may well have gone out as he finished tailed off behind Toscanini.

Sent off the even-money favourite after showing a smidgen of promise at Newmarket last time, Air Force Blue raced at the rear of the field as Toscanini and Lord Of The Land traded blows up front.

With two furlongs remaining Toscanini stretched the field and went on, chased hard by Eastern Impact and Lord Of The Land. Air Force Blue, meanwhile, quickly disappeared from view at the rear.

Toscanini went on to take the prize by a length-and-a-quarter from Eastern Impact with Lord Of The Land third.

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