Lynam issues Anthem warning over ‘soft’ ground

Filly could bypass Keeneland Phoenix Stakes if ground too testing, says handler

Eddie Lynam: “We’re stepping her up to six furlongs and I would feel she might not get the trip and she wouldn’t enjoy the ground if it were soft” Photograph: Getty Images

Eddie Lynam: “We’re stepping her up to six furlongs and I would feel she might not get the trip and she wouldn’t enjoy the ground if it were soft” Photograph: Getty Images

Sat, Aug 9, 2014, 01:00

Eddie Lynam has warned Alexander Anthem could bypass the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh tomorrow should the ground be too soft.

The Starspangledbanner filly won a Tipperary maiden by seven lengths before holding off subsequent Super Sprint winner Tiggy Wiggy by a neck in the Queen Mary at Ascot.

However, she was only sixth on her racecourse debut on very testing ground at the Curragh in May over six furlongs. “[The form] has and hasn’t worked out from Ascot. The second, Tiggy Wiggy, has since gone on and won but the third [Newsletter] has let the form down a bit so I suppose it’s a case of . . . how you read it, but the Queen Mary is usually a good race,” said Lynam.

“The filly has trained well, but there would have to be a question mark about her with the weather forecast. We’ve had some heavy rain in Ireland this morning and if the word ‘soft’ was in the going, I don’t think she would run . . . We’re stepping her up to six furlongs and I would feel she might not get the trip and she wouldn’t enjoy the ground if it were soft.”

What looks a red-hot renewal has drawn a field of nine, with the Johnny Murtagh-trained Kasbah the only horse yet to win a race and the sole runner rated less than 100.

“It looks a very strong race with eight of the nine runners rated 100 or more. The filly [Beach Belle] looks very nice and Richard Hannon’s horse [Kool Kompany] sets the bar for me after he won the Prix Robert Papin. Aidan O’Brien has a very good record in the race and he runs four while Capella Sansevero was second in the Coventry at Ascot, so it’s a very strong race,” said Lynam.

Maarek faces seven rivals as he returns from a mid-season break in the Phoenix Sprint Stakes.

Victorious in the Abbaye at last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe meeting when trained by Barry Lalor, Maarek made a good start for new handler Evanna McCutcheon winning one of his four starts in the spring.

The seven-year-old tasted Duke of York Stakes success on the Knavesmire in May before chasing home subsequent dual Group One winner Slade Power when last seen over six furlongs at the Curragh in May.

Maarek relishes cut in the ground and McCutcheon is keen to get him back on track now that some rain has arrived.

“He’s good . . . He will come on for the run but his last run against Slade Power has worked out well as he is a top-class horse,” she said.

Mick Halford’s Russian Soul was a Group Three winner in Dubai back in February and returned to European action with a pleasing second behind Darwin last month. Jamesie was third for David Marnane that day and tries his luck again while Kevin Ryan’s Hamza and the Roger Varian-trained Rocky Ground make the trip across the Irish Sea.

An Saighdiur, Scream Blue Murder and Flight Risk complete the line-up.

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