Lope De Vega's Phoenix Of Spain Romps in Irish 2000 Guineas

Mark Smith - Sunday May 26

Australian breeders would love another chance with Shamardal (IRE) and his son Lope De Vega (IRE).

In the last few weeks in Europe, Shamardal (IRE) has been represented by the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches heroine Castle Lady, the Group II Prix Corrida winner Morgan le Faye, the Group III Amethyst Stakes winner Hazapour, the Group III Blue Wind Stakes winner Tarnawa the Listed Newbury Fillies' Trial Stakes winner Queen Power, and the Listed First Flier Stakes winner Ickworth.

In the month of May, Lope de Vega (IRE) has fired back with the Listed Prix de Pontarme winner Noor Sahara and the Listed Fairway Stakes winner Raise You and of course the recent Australian stakes-winners Archedemus and Vega One but they were all topped on Saturday when the Charlie Hills-trained colt Phoenix Of Spain put the fancied pair of Too Darn Hot and Magna Grecia to the sword with a three-length romp in the Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh. (image Sporting Life)

Last season at two, Phoenix of Spain was beaten by Too Darn Hot in the Group II Champagne Stakes at Doncaster and by Magna Grecia in the Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.

But Hills had him spot on for his 2019 debut. With Jamie Spencer in the saddle, Phoenix of Spain made nearly all of the running, keeping up a powerful gallop to defeat Too Darn Hot (Dubawi) by three lengths with Decrypt (Dark Angel) a half-length back in third.

The English 2000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia (Invincible Spirit) was sent off favourite and finished a disappointing fifth.

Bookmakers promoted Phoenix Of Spain to the head of betting for the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The son of Lope De Vega has had a troubled preparation according to his trainer.

"We had a setback in January which put us back three or four weeks and it's always hard chasing a horse to get ready for an English Guineas. We did get him there, but unfortunately, we had a dirty scope prior to the race so we couldn't run, Hills told Sporting Life.

"We had given him a racecourse gallop at Newmarket on Craven week and the week after that he scoped dirty - who knows, it might have been a blessing in disguise. He had some fantastic form last year when he was beaten by Too Darn Hot and Magna Grecia.

"We were slightly concerned with the draw in one and were really conscious to get a good start. We just didn't want to get stuck on the rail in behind a few. Luckily he jumped good. The plan wasn't really to make the running, but Jamie gave him an absolute peach and he's some horse.

"To sustain that gallop all the way through and he just keeps lengthening. He's a big horse and whatever he did last year was a bonus. He's got a hell of a future ahead of him."

The Racing Post reports that Phoenix Of Spain will take up stallion duties at the Irish National Stud at the conclusion of his racing career, having negotiated a deal with the colt's owners Ann Plummer and Tony Wechsler.

The seventh winner from as many foals out of the Key Of Luck (Chief's Crown) mare Lucky Clio, Phoenix Of Spain is a half-brother to three stakes-placed runners, the Gr III Dee S. third Kingsdesire (King's Best), who finished his career in Australia, the Listed Rockingham Stakes and Listed European Free Hcp third Lucky Beggar (Verglas) and the Gr III Royal Whip Stakes third Central Square (Azamour).

A half-sister to the Gr II Prix Daniel Wildenstein winner Special Kaldoun (Alzao), Lucky Clio also has a 2-year-old full-brother Phoenix Of Spain who was bought for €110,000 by Grove Stud at the 2017 Goffs November Foal Sale. Her yearling colt by Awtaad (Ire) who sold to Tally-Ho Stud for €58,000 at the same venue last year.

Phoenix Of Spain becomes the eighth Group 1 winner for Ballylinch Stud's Lope De Vega (Shamardal) who left the champion sprinter, 5-time Group 1 winner Santa Ana Lane, and dual Group 1 winner Vega Magic from his four seasons shuttling to Patinack Farm.

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