Strong Suit in great form for Phoenix


RACING NEWS:RICHARD HANNON’S Strong Suit features among 13 confirmations for the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

Hannon has trained over 70 juvenile winners during 2010 and the likes of Libranno, King Torus and Zebedee further strengthened his remarkable hand in that division with Group-race victories at Goodwood last week.

Strong Suit overcame plenty of trouble in running to win the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and the trainer’s son and assistant, Richard Hannon junior, is confident he can maintain his unbeaten record in this weekend’s Group One.

“Strong Suit is in great form, he’s probably the best two-year-old seen out so far this season so he’ll go very well,” said Hannon junior.

Aidan O’Brien has a quite astonishing record in the race having saddled 10 of the last 12 winners, with the likes of George Washington, Holy Roman Emperor and Mastercraftsman striking for Ballydoyle.

Predictably the trainer has another strong hand with seven entries this year, including recent Tyros Stakes winner Zoffany, Samuel Morse and Lake Ontario.

Kevin Prendergast’s Dunboyne Express is unbeaten in two starts, Saeed bin Suroor could saddle recent Newbury winner Al Aasifh, while Jim Bolger’s sole entry is the once-raced Glor Na Mara.

Foolproof and Moonlit Garden complete the line-up.

Meanwhile Ed McMahon has Astrophysical Jet firing on all cylinders as he considers a trip to the Curragh later this month.

The three-year-old stayed on pleasingly to finish third behind more experienced sprinters in last week’s Audi King George Stakes at Goodwood and McMahon believes there is more to come.

“Only beaten three-quarters of a length in a Group Two, I can’t complain about that,” said the Lichfield trainer.

“Obviously we have finished third but it was a bit unfortunate. Graham (Gibbons) looked across to his left and saw the race unfolding up the stands rail and was a little bit unaware of Borderlescott behind him.

“She is very workmanlike and she will battle all the way to the line.

“I think we will probably go for the Group Three Flying Five (August 29th), which is the obvious choice.

“I know she won over six furlongs as a maiden and has run some creditable races over the distance as well, but I think her forte is five furlongs and a stiff one at that.

“It’s just that last half a furlong that she tends to struggle on.”