First Defence's Siskin Maintains Unbeaten Run in the Phoenix

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4th at CUR, Gr. Stk, €300,000G1 Keeneland Phoenix S. (6f)Winner: Siskin, c, 2 by First Defence

Ger Lyons, Colin Keane, Siskin & groom Dan McGraine | Racing Post

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Defying the rain-softened ground and a trio from Ballydoyle, Khalid Abdullah's Siskin (First Defence) kept his unbeaten record intact as he prevailed from TDN Rising Star Monarch of Egypt (American Pharoah) in Friday's G1 Keeneland Phoenix S. at The Curragh. Held up in fourth early by Colin Keane, the 10-11 favourite cruised into a challenging position on the far side heading to two out where battle was joined with Monarch of Egypt who he had beaten in the course-and-distance G2 Railway S. Looking to be losing out in that tussle until the final 100 yards, the Juddmonte homebred began to assert as the line neared and had 3/4 of a length to spare there, with a head back to the G2 July S. winner and early pace-setter Royal Lytham (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}) in third. “I want to thank Prince Khalid Abdullah for putting me in his training ranks and for giving me a horse of this quality to train so soon,” trainer Ger Lyons said. “Every drop of rain that fell took a year off my life and I was worried that this had the makings of a messy race, but in the end it was a cracking group 1.”

Unproven on ground slower than good, having shown a slick turn of acceleration on debut at Naas May 11 and in the May 24 Listed Marble Hill S. and June 29 Railway over this track and trip, Siskin was ridden with unerring confidence by Keane despite concerns over the effect of the heavy rain. He even helped to round up the loose Mount Fuji (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) on the way to the start. “It means everything, especially for the boss and these owners,” the rider said of the breakthrough moment in his riding career. “He's such a lovely horse and is so straightforward, even when the loose horse came to him and I think I was more nervous than him then! He was good and gutsy today and his biggest asset is his temperament. To be honest, I was thinking when the rain came and knowing how much Aidan's horses improve that they would put it up to us, but he's a proper horse and really put his head down. Monarch of Egypt got first run on us, but in fairness mine was going away again at the line.”

Lyons is looking at the Sept. 28 G1 Middle Park S. that Juddmonte sponsor at Newmarket now. “He's just push-button,” he said. “You've never won until you've won in this game and this was part one of the plan. We'll discuss part two with the owner, but I would say that the Middle Park is the main option. He has a lovely change of gear and that ground deadens it, but I just love that he is one of those about which it can be said 'a good horse goes on any ground' and he knuckled down and won well.”

Siskin's dam Bird Flown (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}), who had won over seven furlongs on soft ground at Clairefontaine for Andre Fabre in 2013, is a half-sister to the listed scorer and G2 Hardwicke S. runner-up Barsanti (GB) (Champs Elysees {GB}) which suggests the winner could get a mile in 2020. Also a half-sister to the dam of the multiple grade I-winning champion Close Hatches and the GI Kentucky Oaks third Lockdown by Siskin's sire First Defence, her yearling filly is by Flintshire (GB) while she also has a filly foal by Noble Mission (GB).

Close Hatches is the dam of Tacitus (Tapit), winner of this year's GII Wood Memorial and GII Tampa Bay Derby who was also third in the GI Kentucky Derby and runner-up in the GI Belmont S., while the listed-placed second dam Silver Star (GB) (Zafonic) is a full-sister to the G1 Dewhurst S.-winning champion Xaar (GB) who also flashed precocious brilliance and stayed 10 furlongs well later on. This is also the family of the GI United Nations H. hero Senure (Nureyev), the group 1-winning sire Cityscape (GB) (Selkirk) and high-class sprinter Bated Breath (GB) (Dansili {GB}).

Friday, Curragh, Ireland
KEENELAND PHOENIX S.-G1, €300,000, Curragh, 8-9, 2yo, 6fT, 1:17.14, sf.
1–SISKIN, 129, c, 2, by First Defence
1st Dam: Bird Flown (GB), by Oasis Dream (GB)
2nd Dam: Silver Star (GB), by Zafonic
3rd Dam: Monroe, by Sir Ivor
1ST GROUP 1 WIN. O-Khalid Abdullah; B-Juddmonte Farms Inc (KY); T-Ger Lyons; J-Colin Keane. €171,000. Lifetime Record: 4-4-0-0, $328,508. Werk Nick Rating: A++. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Monarch of Egypt, 129, c, 2, American Pharoah–Up (Ire), by Galileo (Ire). ($750,000 Ylg '18 KEESEP). O-Peter M Brant, Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith; B-Ran Jan Racing Inc (KY); T-Aidan O'Brien. €60,000.
3–Royal Lytham (Fr), 129, c, 2, Gleneagles (Ire)–Gotlandia (Fr), by Anabaa. (€180,000 Ylg '18 ARAUG). O-Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Susan Magnier; B-SARL Haras du Logis Saint Germain (FR); T-Aidan O'Brien. €30,000.
Margins: 3/4, HD, 7. Odds: 0.90, 1.50, 4.50.
Also Ran: Mount Fuji (Ire), Think Big (Ire). Click for the Racing Post result or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. Video, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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