Hills’ Phoenix Of Spain aiming for St James’s Palace success
As a two-year-old Phoenix Of Spain was very good. As a three-year-old he could be much more than that. He seeks to hammer home that point when venturing to Royal Ascot with the chance to stamp himself king of the Classic milers.
On two autumn afternoons at Doncaster the Charlie Hills-trained Acomb Stakes winner found himself faced against a rival too strong. On a spring afternoon at the Curragh he dished out a drubbing to both those rivals – Too Darn Hot and Magna Grecia – in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Having largely been held up in his juvenile outings, the son of Lope De Vega made all at the Curragh and did so wonderfully well, powering clear for a three-length defeat of Too Darn Hot under Jamie Spencer.
Back-to-back Group 1 victories is now his mission as he reopposes Too Darn Hot and Curragh fourth Skardu in a race that also features three runners trained by Aidan O’Brien.
Hills said: “If he runs the race he ran in Ireland he’ll be hard to beat but we can’t be sure how hard a race he had because to run to 120 first time out is pretty massive. However, although we haven’t tested him since the Curragh, he has done everything we’ve asked him to do.
“He has the most amazing temperament. Nothing fazes him. He is bomb proof. He is also such a strong galloper and he has the biggest stride. He can gallop all day long at his relentless pace. I’m sure he will get a mile and a quarter one day but we don’t want to do that just yet.”