Little Big Bear is now a best-priced 9/2 shot to land the 2023 2000 Guineas after pulverising the opposition in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday. Sent off 13/8, he was always up on the front end of the pace in the 6f assignment, and when it looked as though the opposition would have the opportunity to close at the 2f marker, he came off the bridle, but really hit the turbo and powered clear for a devastating seven-length success. Naturally on the back of that performance he has shot to the forefront of the betting for the Newmarket Classic.
Even though he has a fair amount of speed in his pedigree, the manner in which he hit the line at the end of 6f suggests 7f will be no problem, and it will be fascinating to see how much his stamina can be drawn out in his three-year-old campaign. As for more immediate plans, the Ballydoyle representative has options such as the Middle Park or the Dewhurst. It is exciting times in the Aidan O’Brien camp. Emphatic Coventry Stakes winner Bradsell, fluffed the start at the Curragh before finishing a well beaten fourth, wouldn’t be one to write off yet, and looks all speed. It wouldn’t be a shock if he bounced back before the season is out.
Elsewhere, there were plenty of performances to take note of including earlier on the same card, when Go Bears Go returned to the winners enclosure for another victory at Group 3 level. It appeared he was galvanised by first-time cheekpieces, and found plenty for pressure to fend off all rivals. If the headgear has the same effect next time out he could be a force back up into tougher company. All in all it saw a smiling David Loughnane in the aftermath and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Go Bears Go have a crack at a big prize at the back end of the summer, or possibly head off to America for another tilt at the Breeders’ Cup.
On Sunday, the John Quinn team notched Group 1 honours by landing the Prix Maurice de Gheest as Highfield Princess continued her fruitful campaign by causing an upset of sorts. The winner of the Duke Of York Stakes on the Knavesmire back in May, she relished this battle over the extended 6f to win convincingly from the fast-finishing Minzaal. It seemed it was pretty much all about the sprinters over the weekend, and it pretty much was - as we saw some top class performances from the speedsters.
This weekend will see some competitive action, with there being very much a feeling of calm before the storm, with York’s Ebor meeting rocking into town next week. We should be in for some thrilling clashes - most noticeably as Baaeed puts his unbeaten record on the line as he steps up to 10f for the first time. Mishriff and co will be no pushovers, but Racing loves it’s superstars, and it would be great to see the four-year-old keep the unbeaten CV intact, and put in a sparkling performance in the process of doing so.
Lots to look forward to - enjoy your week!