Dick Whittington makes it lucky 13 for Aidan O’Brien in Phoenix Stakes
Joseph O’Brien brings home 6 to 1 shot in hotly contested Curragh sprint
Dick Whittington ridden by Joseph O’Brien is challenged by Kool Kompany and Richard Hughes during The Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Aidan O’Brien extended his tremendous record in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes as Dick Whittington knuckled down to claim Group One glory at the Curragh on Sunday.
The master of Ballydoyle has saddled no less than 12 previous winners of the six-furlong contest, with the likes of Johannesburg (2001), George Washington (2005), Holy Roman Emperor (2006) and Mastercraftsman (2008) on the roll of honour.
With O’Brien electing to withdraw The Great War and War Envoy on account of the rain-softened ground, and Eddie Lynam’s Royal Ascot winner Anthem Alexander also taken out, Anglesey Stakes winner Dick Whittington was a 6 to 1 shot under Joseph O’Brien.
In the absence of Anthem Alexander in particular, it appeared an excellent opportunity for Richard Hannon’s prolific winner Kool Kompany to claim a victory at the highest level and he was the 8 to 11 favourite.
Richard Hughes was briefly kept in by O’Brien, but fought his way out and the two settled down for scrap in the final furlong.
Neither horse wilted as the post loomed, but Dick Whittington found extra in the final strides to secure victory.
The stewards called an inquiry in the immediate aftermath.
It did not take long for the stewards to decide the placings should remain unaltered and the result stood.
The winning trainer said: “He’s a tough, hardy horse. We weren’t sure before today if he would get a mile or not but after that you would think he will.
“He won very well on fast ground at Navan and I’d say the ground doesn’t seem to bother him.
“He’s had a busy enough time for a young horse so we won’t be in any panic with him now. He’s had a tough race there and we’ll give him a little break.
“The dad (Rip Van Winkle) was very genuine, and it’s good to see he’s passed that on.”