Siskin on course for Middle Park date at Newmarket

Colin Keane bids to extend title race lead at Fairyhouse on Saturday with 5-1 colt

Colin Keane guides Siskin to victory in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho

Ger Lyons reports his stable star Siskin on track for a potential "nap hand" in Saturday's Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes.

Victory in the Newmarket Group One will give Siskin an unbeaten five from five campaign although his trainer expects it to be the biggest challenge the colt has faced to date.

“Touch wood everything is good and I couldn’t be happier with him. We are running into the bigger horses now though. But I couldn’t be happier with my lad,” Lyons said on Sunday.

Siskin graduated to the top-flight with a smooth Phoenix Stakes success under Colin Keane last month and the jockey is looking forward to Saturday's contest.

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“He doesn’t show a lot at home but he seems in a good place right now. Hopefully he gets there in one piece,” he said.

Siskin is a general 5-1 shot for the Middle Park behind both the Prix Morny winner Earthlight and Mums Tipple, a spectacular winner of a York sales race last month.

Siskin’s presence at Newmarket will mean Keane takes a brief break from the battle for Ireland’s jockeys championship.

The 2017 champion is currently three ahead of Donnancha O’Brien (87-84) but bookmakers still make the current title-holder odds on to retain the crown.

Both go to Fairyhouse on Monday where O’Brien has four rides although Keane could hold an edge with some good prospects among his seven intended mounts.

Fifth attempt

They include perhaps the best maiden in the country, Soul Search, who tries to get off the mark at her fifth attempt in the €50,000 Ballyhane Blenheim Stakes.

An ease in the going could suit the Zoffany filly who was fourth in the Moyglare and third in both the Debutante and Anglesey Stakes.

Soul Search has half a dozen opponents including Ballydoyle’s Pistoletto and Zaarzyni who was fourth in the Round Tower last time.

Keane can also expect to fancy his chance on both Vormir, who the jockey will go light for, in the claimer and First Thing in a maiden.

One of O'Brien's four rides is Cosmic Horizon who carries the colours of the Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt in the concluding handicap.

An interesting contender here however is Metier, raised 15lbs for a six length win at Gowran where he beat Bashiyr, twice a winner since.

The Keane-O’Brien duel will continue at Gowran on Thursday where the Group Three card scheduled for Saturday, but called off due to lightning, will be run off.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column