2.25 York – PHOENIX OF SPAIN (nap)
This year’s renewal of the Acomb Stakes is more about potential than proven form, only one of these having raced at pattern level so far, but it does bring together a promising debut winner and some impressive last-time-out scorers – past winners include King’s Best, Rule Of Law, Palace Episode, Elusive Pimpernel and Dutch Connection.
The selection, trained by Charlie Hills, is a son of Lope De Vega who debuted in a 7f novice event at Sandown last month (16/1 chance), ducking left out of the stalls and restrained into last place, still there when shaken up approaching the two furlong marker, making progress over a furlong out and staying on nicely throughout the final furlong to take fourth behind King Of Comedy (beaten 4½ lengths). He duly came good at the second time of asking in a 7f novice contest at Wolverhampton 23 days later (6/5 favourite), tracking the leaders and tanking along, making smooth progress on the outer two furlongs out and taking over on the bit inside the final 150 yards, nudged out to score by 2½ lengths from Multamis. For all it wouldn’t have been the strongest of races, the visual impression this colt created was nevertheless as a lasting one, backing up a highly promising debut effort at Sandown when not best placed (finished 2l behind the front-running, re-opposing Persian Moon). This obviously demands a good deal more, but he is a nicely-bred, sizeable individual open to improvement; representing an in-form stable that supplied the winner of this race back in 2014, it wouldn’t at all surprise to see this colt take this rise in class in his stride.
Stablemate Pogo is a son of Zebedee who found only subsequent Group winners Advertise and Main Edition too good on his first two outings at Newbury and Windsor (both 6f), but he was out of his depth when upped in class for the Coventry Stakes on his third start, coming home 15th of 23 behind Calyx (beaten 10½ lengths). He bounced back from a poor run at Salisbury to land a five-runner 7f nursery at Newmarket (July) 11 days ago (3/1 chance), taking a keen hold early and settled back into last place, making good progress on the outer from the two furlong marker and leading inside the final 150 yards, staying on well to score by 1¾ lengths from Greenback Boogie. He was nicely on top at the finish and belatedly confirmed the promise of his first two runs, with the rain-softened ground that day also in his favour; back up in grade and returned to quicker ground, he’ll likely prove vulnerable once again.
The Richard Hannon-trained Watan is a son of Toronado who made a winning start to his career in a 6f maiden at Glorious Goodwood 22 days ago (6/1 chance), close up from the outset and travelling nicely, shaken up and edging right from the two furlong marker, ridden to lead entering the final furlong and staying on strongly to score by 2 lengths from Dirty Rascal. It was no mean feat for this colt to make a winning start at a course such as Goodwood, lacking the experience of some and showing that when pressure was applied two furlongs out, learning all the while and asserting inside the final furlong to win going away. The runner-up has been beaten again since, as have one or two others (ninth awarded a race next time out), but this colt is likely to rate a good deal better than the bare form in time; extra furlong here should be fine and his potential is undeniable, so no surprise to see him in the mix.
Mark Johnston’s Persian Moon is a son of Makfi who has improved with each run, following a debut fourth at Newmarket (July) to Neverland Rock and a second place finish behind King Of Comedy at Sandown (both 7f) with a resounding 5-length success over Motalaaqy in a 7f novice event at Yarmouth last month, making all. He followed up under a penalty in a median auction novice event over this course and distance nine days later (8/5 (!) market leader), soon leading and pressing on over two furlongs out, joined not long after and headed entering the final furlong, responding well for pressure to regain the lead close home and edge out Hot Team by half a length (pair clear). It was a highly commendable effort, conceding 6lbs to the runner-up, who won next time out though has since been beaten at Ffos Las under a penalty. He has earned this step up in class and it is certainly no bad thing he boasts previous course experience; a strong stayer at this trip, he’s sure to give it his best shot from the front.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Broome is a son of Australia who stepped up on his debut fifth at Killarney behind stablemate Anthony Van Dyck to land an 8.5f maiden at Galway two and a half weeks ago (4/5 market leader), recovering from a somewhat sluggish start to lead, shaken up over two furlongs out and keeping on well in the straight to fend off the challenge of Lightning Amber and score by 1½ lengths (pair well clear). This colt displayed a likeable attitude that day, finding plenty once pressed inside the final furlong to see off his only serious rival, the pair quickly putting daylight between themselves and the other three runners in the field. He is certainly a useful prospect, but his top stable rarely targets this race (last winning it in 2000) and their son of Australia now steps back a furlong in trip on faster ground than he encountered last time; others make greater appeal on this occasion.
The Karl Burke-trained Swissterious is a son of Swiss Spirit who showed the benefit for both his debut outing and a step up in distance when contesting a 7f novice event at Wolverhampton at the beginning of last month (8/1 chance), well away from his wide draw to sit prominently, ridden two furlongs out and keeping on well in the straight to take a 1-length second behind Water Diviner. He took another step forward when landing a similar event at Doncaster 24 days later (5/1 chance), close up and taking over going well over two furlongs out, forging clear inside the final furlong to record a 4-length margin of victory over Summer Moon. This colt’s previous experience certainly counted for plenty that day, one of only three in the field to have seen action, but he has improved with each start and was still an emphatic winner; unwise to rule out further progress and ought to be on the premises.