Great Britain & Ireland Preview: Bradsell can stop O'Brien

August 5th, 2022

It’s a relatively quiet weekend in Britain and Ireland, as many of the best horses get over Glorious Goodwood last week and prepare for the York Ebor festival, which begins Aug. 17. The biggest event publicity-wise is the Shergar Cup, a jockey contest featuring riders from around the world, but a card which features no black type races.

There are Group races at Newmarket and Haydock, but the only course in Britain and Ireland featuring a Group 1 is The Curragh, and it is races at this Irish course that are the subject of Saturday’s Rest of the World Bet Back offer from TwinSpires. Accordingly, we’ll focus on The Curragh for this week’s column.

Race 4, 10:15 a.m. ET: Phoenix Sprint Stakes (G3), 6 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up

This Group 3 sprint looks an extremely open affair, with most of the 12 runners looking to have some prospects.

The fancied runners include #5 Go Bears Go and #8 Dubawi Legend, second and third behind Minzaal in the Hackwood (G3) at Newbury July 16. That looks like good form for this, but I’m going to say that #3 Power Under Me can beat them.

The son of Mehmas beat the high-quality mare Mooneista at Cork April 3, and though he disappointed in the Greenlands (G2) May 21, he put in a very solid effort when third to #6 Teresa Mendoza in the Dubai Duty Free Dash S. at The Curragh June 25. He conceded eight pounds to Teresa Mendoza that day, but only has to give three pounds away here.

Teresa Mendoza has since run a nice fourth in the Summer Stakes (G3) at York, franking the form nicely, and she has enjoyed The Curragh in the past, so she should be included in exotics.

  • $10 win/$30 place: #3 Power Under Me ($40)
  • $1 trifecta: 3, 5 with 3, 5, 8 with 3, 5, 6, 8 ($8)

Race 6, 11:15 a.m. ET: Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (G1), 6 furlongs, 2-year-olds

Only six runners, but at least five of them look to have genuine winning chances.

Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien has won this race a mere 16 times, but he comes into this race on his biggest losing streak, not having won since 2017. He will field a formidable two-pronged attack here.

O’Brien’s No. 1 challenger is with #4 Little Big Bear, looking for his fourth straight victory after winning the five-furlong Windsor Castle S. at Royal Ascot — a race from which several winners have emerged — and then the 6 1/2-furlong Anglesey (G3) at The Curragh July 16. Ballydoyle No. 1 rider Ryan Moore has chosen to stick with him.

Not far behind him for O’Brien is #2 Blackbeard. He has mixed his form a bit, finishing fourth in the Coventry (G2) at Royal Ascot June 14 and second in the Railway (G2) at The Curragh prior to a three-length victory in the Prix Robert Papin (G2) at Chantilly.

Three of the horses that finished ahead of Blackbeard in the aforementioned races are in this race also. One is the Aga Khan’s #6 Shartash, who beat Blackbeard by a short head in the Railway. It was his second win in three starts, and trainer John Murtagh will have him ready for this.

Also due to start are the first two home in the Coventry, the English raiders #3 Bradsell and #5 Persian Force. Bradsell showed a great turn of foot to zoom 1 1/2 lengths clear and was never in any danger of defeat once he hit the front; if he’s made natural progression and travels well, he will be very tough to beat.

Persian Force franked the Coventry form when easily winning the July S. (G2) at Newmarket July 7. Indeed, the form has worked out well from that race, with third-place finisher Royal Scotsman also winning at Group 2 level in the meantime as well as Persian Force and Blackbeard.

The other runner is #1 Apache Outlaw, who isn’t a completely forlorn hope, having finished third in the Railway behind Shartash and Blackbeard, but exotics look to be the best hope for him.

On exposed form, I can’t see Blackbeard, Persian Force, Shartash, or Apache Outlaw beating Bradsell. The big danger to him is Little Big Bear, and I will focus on these two for the bets here.

  • $10 win: #4 Little Big Bear (use only if all six entries start, as Bet-Back is unavailable otherwise) ($10)
  • $10 box exacta: 3-4 ($20)