Donn's Articles » Siskin – Classic winner

Siskin – Classic winner

It was high-wire stuff, Siskin and Colin Keane on the inside, buried, a rail to their right and horses all around them.  Nowhere to go and the two-furlong pole flashing past.

Now get out of that one.

You have to pause and rewind a few times to figure out all that happened then.  Lope Y Fernandez quickened up on the outside in what looked like a race-winning move, hit the front and settled down to run to the line.  It was only after he went past that Colin Keane could move, and even then the task still looked arduous.  It was probably at around that point that Lope Y Fernandez hit 1/2 in-running and Siskin went 12/1. 

Keane still had Armory to his left, but he had the confidence and he had the horse to engineer some racing room for himself.  He got into the clear as they ran to the furlong pole, but still he looked odds-against.  And you were thinking, that’s a pity, unlucky loser.

Then that turn of foot.  Ger Lyons’ horse went from a length down passing the furlong marker to two lengths up 200 yards later.  And he stayed all right.  He had to stay.  Two furlongs further than he had ever been in his life before, and he gobbled it up.  He ran to the line and through the line like a horse who loved the job and relished every yard.

It was the perfect end to this chapter of the Siskin story.  For the horse, for Ger Lyons, for Colin Keane.  The Juddmonte colt provided trainer and rider with their first domestic Group 1 win together last year when he won the Phoenix Stakes, and now, their first Classic.

Ger Lyons is no overnight success.  In 2007, he won the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot with Elletelle.  In 2011 he won the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes with Lightening Pearl.  He has grown to become one of the main players in Irish racing, and things like that don’t just happen.  The foundation and the structure that gets you to the top must have substance.  It is not by accident that he was asked to train for Siskin’s owner Prince Khalid Abdullah.

Colin Keane has long-since been recognised in Ireland as one of the best jockeys in the weigh room and, in the last couple of years, he has also gained traction further afield.   Ger Lyons recognised his talent early and acted accordingly, entrusted him with the role as his number one rider in 2014.  Keane was just 19.

And Siskin.  Four for four last year as a juvenile, and every time he raced he stepped forward.  The tests got progressively tougher, and he passed them all.  Marble Hill Stakes, Railway Stakes, Phoenix Stakes on soft ground.  Listed race, Group 2, Group 1.  Now add Classic.

What next?  A mile for sure.  For now anyway.  He looks like a quintessential miler.  He sees out the trip and, that turn of foot that he showed last year at the end of six furlongs, we now know that it is as potent at the end of a mile.  It is a pity that the St James’s Palace Stakes comes up so quickly after the Irish Guineas this year, because he would have been an odds-on shot for that. 

Ger Lyons mentioned the Sussex Stakes as an option on Friday, and that makes sense.  There are myriad options though.  Prix Jacques le Marois, Prix du Moulin, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Mile, if travel is allowed.  Prix de la Foret maybe.  Satisfaction at what has been achieved, excitement at what may be to come. 

Vatican City ran a big race in the Guineas, stepping up massively in class, as he was, from a maiden win at Dundalk in October.  Aidan O’Brien’s horse finished off his race well to take second place, shaping like a horse who might appreciate going further than a mile, and his Irish Derby odds were cut accordingly.  His pedigree screams a mile though.  Top class mile.  A full-sibling, as he is, to Guineas winners Gleneagles and Marvellous, and to Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Happily.  His dam won over six furlongs.  But he is by Galileo and his dam is a full-sister to Giant’s Causeway, so there is a possibility that he will go further than a mile.

Lope Y Fernandez showed a smart turn of foot, a turn of foot that might be seen to even better effect back over seven or even six furlongs, while Sinawann ran well for a long way.  Michael Halford’s horse didn’t have an awful lot of room from two furlongs out, but he should improve for this run and, from the family of Sinndar, he could improve too for a step up in trip.

Peaceful ran out an impressive winner of the Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas on Sunday.  Seamie Heffernan bounced her out of the gate and he always had her handy, up on the outside of early pace-setter Valeria Messalina.

The rider had to get a little lower in the saddle as they raced past the three-furlong pole, but his filly gave generously.  The further they went, the stronger she got.  She got past the leader as they raced inside the two-furlong pole and she came clear of her rivals inside the final 100 yards to post an impressive victory.

It was a ninth Irish 1000 Guineas for Aidan O’Brien, and it provided further evidence of the strength of the three-year-old fillies at Ballydoyle this year, after Love’s emphatic victory in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket last week.  Peaceful was only taken out of the Newmarket race at final declaration stage, as was So Wonderful, who ran another cracking race to finish third in Saturday’s race, just over two lengths behind her stable companion.  A slightly unlucky third in the Moyglare Stud Stakes last year, it is difficult to believe that she is still a maiden. 

The Donnacha O’Brien-trained Fancy Blue ran a big race for Declan McDonogh to get up for second place, thereby providing a 1-2-3 in the Classic for the Michael Tabor colours, and a 1-2-3-4 for the O’Brien clann, with the Joseph O’Brien-trained New York Girl finishing fourth.

Fancy Blue did well to get as close as she did, coming from the rear in a race in which the pace held up well.  The other three fillies who, with her, filled the first four places raced in second, third and fourth places from flagfall.  By contrast, Fancy Blue was 10th of the 11 runners as they raced to the three-furlong marker, and she had to make her ground widest of all.  This was just her third run too and, out of a sister to High Chaparral, she could improve for a step up in trip. 

Peaceful could also step up in trip, but she is obviously very good over a mile.  Aidan O’Brien mentioned Saturday’s Coronation Stakes as an option, depending on how she came out of Saturday’s race.  Or she could go for the Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh on Irish Derby weekend at the end of June, or the Epsom Oaks in early July, or the Irish Oaks in mid-July, or some combination thereof.  Myriad options again.

© Sporting Life, 15th June 2020