Murray favouring Bucanero Fuerte for Phoenix test

By Sports Desk August 08, 2023

Bucanero Fuerte is set to renew rivalry with his Royal Ascot conqueror River Tiber in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday.

Aidan O’Brien claimed the Group One contest for a remarkable 17th time with Little Big Bear 12 months ago and is responsible for six of the 12 juveniles still in contention for this year’s renewal.

The Ballydoyle handler’s chief hope is River Tiber, who stretched his unbeaten record to three in the Coventry Stakes at the Royal meeting in June and is second only to stablemate City Of Troy in the ante-post betting for next year’s 2000 Guineas.

Alabama, His Majesty, Johannes Brahms, The Caribbean and Unquestionable complete the O’Brien sextet.

Just a length behind River Tiber when third in the Coventry was the Adrian Murray-trained Bucanero Fuerte, who subsequently proved that performance was no fluke by edging out Unquestionable in the Group Two Railway Stakes over the Phoenix course and distance.

Murray has also left his 150-1 Norfolk Stakes winner Valiant Force and Launch in the Group One contest at the six-day stage, but looks set to rely upon his Railway winner.

He said: “Bucanero Fuerte is the one that’s probably going to go.

“All has gone well since the Railway. We took him and Valiant Force to work at the Curragh last week and we were very happy with the two of them. Hopefully it’s onwards and upwards.

“You don’t know until you run, but looks like he (Bucanero Fuerte) is improving all the time.”

Assuming Bucanero Fuerte does line up at the Curragh, his stablemate Valiant Force could head to France in search of a Group One win of his own.

“He’s going to Deauville in two weeks’ time for the Prix Morny. We’re looking forward to it – the pressure is on,” Murray added.

The potential Phoenix field is completed by Donnacha O’Brien’s Porta Fortuna, winner of the Albany Stakes at the Royal meeting, Jessica Harrington’s Coventry fourth Givemethebeatboys and the Diego Dias-trained Gaenari.

Related items

  • Team Mullins already plotting another title challenge if successful Team Mullins already plotting another title challenge if successful

    Patrick Mullins has warned Britain’s leading yards that his father Willie may well aim for back-to-back victories in the jump trainers’ championship if topping the table this term.

    The Closutton camp added a rather modest £4,356.80 to their tally when Patrick partnered 2-9 favourite Rath Gaul Boy to an easy success in the Dragonbet Best Odds On Welsh Sport Novices’ Hurdle at Ffos Las.

    But that win showed that having already passed the £3million mark with Grand National victories at Aintree and Ayr to build up a sizeable lead over Dan Skelton and Paul Nicholls, Mullins is clearly keen to take nothing for granted.

    And if he becomes only the second trainer based in Ireland to claim the UK title, the inspiration is there to push on for a second straight success.

    “Myself, Ruby (Walsh) and David (Casey) would love it to be the plan from the start of the season, but Willie is always very much like mind your own garden and don’t let anyone get a foothold at home and do your best there,” Patrick Mullins told Sky Sports Racing.

    “The only reason this became possible is because I Am Maximus won the National, if he hadn’t won the National, we wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t have been at Ayr. It’s half a million, so we’d be fourth.

    “So that changed things and we’ve been blown away by the support. People have been saying if you want to send a horse to Ffos Las or Ludlow or wherever, then do that. We’re very grateful for that.

    “But Vincent O’Brien did it in the 1950s and he did it two years in a row, so if we do win it, maybe we’ll have to come back next year and emulate him! Although to emulate anything Vincent O’Brien did would be very special, because he is the legend.”

    Manchester United fan Mullins was at Wembley on Saturday to watch the Red Devils reach the FA Cup final by getting past Coventry, but he took note of how they blew a 3-0 lead and came within a whisker of being knocked out in extra-time before prevailing on penalties.

    Nicholls famously overturned a big deficit on the final day at Sandown when the Closutton team were last in pole position to top the table back in 2016.

    “We went to Sandown before on the last day and we’ve been here before and we didn’t win, but hopefully this time we can,” added Patrick.

    “The bid for the English title has really livened everything up for us at Closutton as well and we’re really enjoying it. I’m delighted to be in Ffos Las, I was delighted to be in Ayr and I can’t wait to be going to Ludlow on Wednesday.

    “I haven’t seen a lot of these tracks, so it’s exciting and hopefully we can get it over the line.

    “People have been very kind, we were up in Ayr and the crowd were so welcoming and very supportive of us.

    “I remember when Man United used to win everything and everyone wanted to beat them, so there is that side of things when you’re successful, but Willie’s always said you take nothing for granted and you don’t know when things can change, so enjoy it while you can.

    “We got the bounce of the ball in Ayr, where we got two photo-finishes. Macdermott could have been second and Chosen Witness could have been second, so that would have changed the whole thing again.”

  • Burrows pencils in early summer return for Alflaila Burrows pencils in early summer return for Alflaila

    Owen Burrows’ Alflaila is pencilled in for a summer comeback after a setback cut short his brief campaign last season.

    The entire son of Dark Angel has done plenty to prove his ability in the past, enjoying a successful three-year-old season which yielded four victories.

    Amongst them was the Strensall Stakes at York, an eight-furlong Group Three, and the Masar Darley Stakes at the same level at Newmarket.

    Those runs were due to lead into a bid for the Bahrain International Trophy, but the bay met with a setback and could not take his chance in the Middle East.

    He made a late return to action in June last year to take the York Stakes on the Knavesmire by half a length, and although luck did not favour him in his subsequent start in the Irish Champion Stakes he was not disgraced when coming home fifth.

    Alflaila has not been seen since after meeting with another issue, but he has now returned to work and Burrows is hopeful he will make an early summer comeback.

    “He’s back with me, he probably won’t be out for another month’s time,” said Burrows.

    “In the last couple of weeks he’s started fast work and it’ll be good to get him back.

    “He obviously didn’t have the longest of seasons last year, but he won well at York on King George day and then it’d didn’t go to plan in the Irish Champion Stakes.

    “That was the case for a lot of the English horses, and then unfortunately he had a little setback and that finished him for the season.

    “Touch wood we can get him back soon, I was hoping to start him in the Brigadier Gerard, but that may just come a fraction too soon.

    “It all depends how the next few weeks go, but he looks as well as ever, he’s filled out and strengthened up again.

    “I’m not going to rush him to try and get to Sandown, if it comes around then it comes around but if not we’ll look to June time, there’s plenty of races for a nice horse like him.

    “He was only just over three lengths behind Auguste Rodin (in the Irish Champion Stakes) and so he doesn’t have a huge amount to find to step up into these Group One races.”

  • El Fabiolo and Gaelic Warrior among Mullins Sandown entries El Fabiolo and Gaelic Warrior among Mullins Sandown entries

    Willie Mullins has entered both El Fabiolo and Gaelic Warrior at Sandown on Saturday, as he leaves no stone unturned in his attempt to be crowned champion trainer in the UK for the first time.

    With £170,000 up for grabs in the bet365 Celebration Chase, Mullins has every base covered with the winners of the last two renewals of the Arkle at Cheltenham.

    Appreciate It, Dysart Dynamo and Saint Sam could all run for Mullins, who has made 25 entries on the card overall, while current champion chaser Captain Guinness holds an entry for Henry de Bromhead.

    In what could potentially be one of the races of the season, Jonbon, Editeur Du Gite and Edwardstone are among the 14 possibles, in which Mullins’ nearest rival Dan Skelton has entered Nube Negra and his new recruit from Ben Pauling, Harper’s Brook.

    A late decision is expected on Gaelic Warrior, with Joe Chambers, racing manager for his owners Susannah and Rich Ricci, explaining he is unlikely to be supplemented for the Champion Chase at Punchestown.

    “We’re crawling forward day by day and fully expected him to be entered. We’ll see how things are looking on Thursday morning,” Chambers told the Nick Luck Daily podcast

    “We’re not in the Champion Chase at Punchestown, only the novice race, and it’s 30,000 euros to supplement, which doesn’t appeal.

    “Willie has always kept novices to novices, unless there has been the odd exception. I would have thought winning the Scottish National would make him run less rather than more, but I could be absolutely wrong, I haven’t a clue what they are thinking.

    “He’d be a fair sight, I’d love to see him personally going two miles there, it’s right-handed but whether he goes there or not, it’s going to be very much later in the week.”

    Nicky Henderson’s Jonbon is in at Punchestown but Sandown is his preferred destination.

    “We are thinking we’re going to Sandown, that’s the plan at the moment, we’re just a little concerned he’s had to start watering quite early. As long as it is safe,” said Henderson.

    “We did the two (Aintree and Sandown) last year, so it pricked our ears to it again. Punchestown is an option but I’d rather not be travelling, as it would be safer to stay in England, to be honest.”

    In the bet365 Oaksey Chase, Ahoy Senor is among 17 entries, along with Henry de Bromhead’s Journey With Me and Patrick Neville’s The Real Whacker.

    Paul Nicholls’ Threeunderthrufive is left at the top of the weights for the bet365 Gold Cup, as the current champion retains a slim hope of retaining his title.

    Last year’s winner Kitty’s Light remains in contention after his brave run in the Grand National, with Le Milos carrying the flag for Skelton.

    Mullins has left in four, with Nick Rockett and Minella Cocooner his main hopes.

    Impaire Et Passe and Langer Dan could meet again in the bet365 Select Hurdle, in which Skelton has also entered My Drogo.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.