Siskin maintained his unbeaten record as he registered a first Group One success in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh yesterday evening.
Trained by Ger Lyons and ridden by Colin Keane, Siskin was unbeaten in his three previous starts, including when seeing off the reopposing Monarch Of Egypt in the Railway Stakes on his most recent outing.
Sent off the 10-11 favourite, Keane adopted a patient approach as Royal Lytham set the early pace in the six-furlong heat before making his challenge inside the final two furlongs.
Monarch Of Egypt made Siskin battle hard though, pulling alongside him inside the final furlong, but Siskin found a little extra for pressure to win by three-quarters of a length, with Monarch Of Egypt narrowing the two-and-a-half-length verdict from the railway.
Lyons, saddling his first Group One winner in Ireland, said: “My confidence was shot all week with the rain, purely because we knew he was better on a faster gallop. His forte is that burst of speed that he still showed there. I think he’s a very smart horse.
“I’m delighted to be training for Prince Khalid [Abdullah], and as I’ve said, we can’t train Group One horses unless we get Group One horses. Thankfully, in my second season training for this operation, I’m after getting a Group One horse.
“What a horse to have – he’s so push button. I was worrying all week listening to every drop of rain falling, but the horse just got on with it and did his job.”
Siskin is now a 10-1 shot for next year's 2000 Guineas with Paddy Power, while the Aidan O'Brien-trained Monarch Of Egypt is 14-1 from 25s.
Lyons added: “Talk of Guineas at this stage is very premature as we are racing over six furlongs in August. Today was to tell us do we step up to seven for the Dewhurst or the National Stakes or do we go Middle Park route. Did we learn anything trip-wise? I don’t know. I just learned that this is one good, tough horse. We’ll get together and make a plan with him.”
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for the owner, said: "I'm delighted and he's a homebred, which makes it even more important. He's a horse with a great mind and he took all the preliminaries very well. The way he travelled in the race showed he's got class."
Meanwhile Gustavus Weston came out on top in a thrilling climax to the Qatar Racing And Equestrian Club Phoenix Sprint Stakes. A field of nine sprinters went to post for the six-furlong Group Three, with the Gordon Elliott-trained Beckford a warm order as the 15-8 favourite.
However, the market leader was unable to make a major impact as the Joe Murphy-trained Gustavus Weston caused a 16-1 upset in the hands of Gary Carroll – sticking to his guns to repel the challenge of Woody Creek by a neck.
Murphy said: “We always thought he was a good horse and he learned more running in the big handicap [Tote Scurry] last time, which crowned him for this race. He’s getting more professional and I think he’s a horse that will progress.
“I was afraid of the ground, but I’m glad now that he handled it and his options are bigger. I’m not sure where he will go now, and there is no reason why he shouldn’t get a bit further.”
Tom Hogan’s admirable veteran Gordon Lord Byron – making the 101st appearance of his illustrious career – again emerged with plenty to finish third, a further two and a half lengths away.