Sioux Nation beats Beckford
©Healy Racing Photos
By Thomas Weekes
Aidan O’Brien’s dominance of the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes continued at the Curragh today as the Champion Trainer won his 16th renewal as his Sioux Nation ended Gordon Elliott’s audacious attempt to win the Group 1 contest, with runner-up Beckford.
Sioux Nation, a son of Coolmore’s en vogue but deceased stallion Scat Daddy, was a half length winner of the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and, under Ryan Moore, was today taking on national hunt trainer Elliott’s Beckford, a winner of the Railway Stakes at the Kildare venue in July.
The pair fought out a tight finish and at the line, Sioux Nation again held Beckford, for another half length success, with Actress, a length and a half further behind, also filling third place for O'Brien.
O’Brien, who took over as trainer at Ballydoyle in 1996, has now won 16 of the last 20 renewals, since 1997, of the Phoenix Stakes and following the race stated “Ryan (Moore) was delighted with him and he's a big horse and he's still progressing. He has plenty of speed.
“Obviously we saw him in Ascot (over five furlongs) and I said to Ryan 'how far will he stay’, and he said he'd be very comfortable at five but could still get seven this year because he's very relaxed.
“Those kind of horses, with that kind of pace, the better the ground the better it is for them, he has plenty of speed. The ground would be a help and you probably wouldn't want to run him on soft.
“We'll see how he is but you'd be thinking about the Middle Park and you could have a look at the National Stakes or Dewhurst.
“It depends on where the ground is as you wouldn't run him on bad ground; but six or seven furlongs he'll be very happy.
When asked if he could be a Breeders Cup contender he added “he'd have no bother I'd say. He's big, powerful, rangy and loves fast ground and I'd say he'll progress, as he's progressed with every run this year.”
Regarding his third-placed Actress, O’Brien added “she's progressing all the time and could come back for the Moyglare; every run this year she has got better and better.”
Quotes from Gary Carson