The long and complicated story of Phoenix Thoroughbreds is a million miles from being either understood or fully exposed. It involves a Bulgarian-based crypto-currency Ponzi scheme, the FBI, a man called Amer Abdulaziz Salman, who owns various companies that have the word Phoenix attached to them, a lawyer called Scott, (part of whose testimony ran thus…”All the money that was not invested was, at the direction of the investors, sent to, umm, another, umm, another financial advisor in Dubai. We have nothing to do anymore… We signed an agreement, the first agreement at the behest of the investors is called Phoenix something Investment Fund, I think just Phoenix.“), a Russian Konstantin Ignatov, whose sister Ruja Ignatova, was the former girlfriend of Gilbert Armenta some of whose Mexican mates have recently appeared in suitcases.
Most of this occurred around 2017, and was widely reported over the next eighteen months. The Racing Post ran the story widely, including this piece last month, around which time France Galop banned the organisation. Matt Chapman in the Sun, reported that Phoenix had used trainers around the globe including Doug O’Neill, Steve Asmussen, Ed Vaughan, Karl Burke, John Quinn, Peter Chapple-Hyam, Joseph O’Brien, Jerry Hollendorfer, Mike Stidham, Jamie Osborne, Mike Maker, Todd Pletcher, Peter Miller, Anthony Freedman, Gai Waterhouse and Kenny McPeek; although the now-retired Jeremy Noseda, Martyn Meade and US legend Bob Baffert have severed ties with the organisation. Yesterday, the BHA banned Phoenix Thoroughbreds from British Racing. You might think they were slowly away on that particular score.
Talking of slowly away, here are today’s tips…
1:40 bet365 Mallard Handicap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 1m6½f
Various trends suggest a toss-up between CALCULATION and VOLCANIC SKY, but the money is all for ALFAATIK.
ALFAATIK has been gelded after disappointing connections last season in Class 1s, and his win at York LTO was just his fourth start. He is tricky to train at home and he seemed to do just enough to win his race. The race has already produced a couple of decent horses, but he is too short for my liking. I’m not convinced that VOLCANIC SKY is enjoying racing much, having dwelt LTO, then dropped the bit, then started to make up ground 3f out and, when disputing 2nd, suddenly hung left and dropped two places in the last 100 yds. That sort of race almost makes me go Hmmm because you could also say that it was a whip reaction and that it won’t matter at Donny. CALCULATION ran a perfectly nice race, but again I suspect there is something here to beat him. That might be SLEEPING LION, who won this last year and with Jamie Spencer his old winning partner could perhaps take this again. There isn’t much in it, so instead here is a really wild one – largely because I think he’s a hugely under-rated trainer – Graeme McPherson’s HIGH WELLS. He’s been running well in C3 handicaps, but his head seems in a very good place and at his current price around 18s, he seems super value. He won his last race by 5½l having forged clear in the final furlong to land his second win for this trainer in just four starts. A two-time winner for Seamus Durack in the past, he’s returned in fine form for this yard since coming back from a 630-day absence and was defying a 6lb higher mark than when defeating dual subsequent winner, Mr Chua at Sandown in July. He’ll go up a fair bit for this, though this was just his third start on the AW and he could have more improvement in him.
HIGH WELLS e/w
2:10 bet365 Handicap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 6½f
I quite like the look of DANZAN who meets the trends and will benefit from the fact that almost all of his rivals will attempt to make the running and win this from the front. With that in mind, a strong finisher could well pick up the bits. MUSICALITY has only had four starts and he has good form figures and a running style that suggest he has more in the locker. TRANCHEE goes in the frame for a combination forecast.
DANZAN e/w – MUSICALITY win – TRANCHEE CFC
2:40 Bombardier Flying Childers Stakes (Group 2) Cl1 (2yo) 5f
With the LIR JET a non-runner, the market looks unattractive. SACRED is the favourite and has a serious chance based on her Lowther run. STEEL BULL lost two teeth and banged his head leaving the stalls in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes LTO so ignore that run which in any event was over 6f. Back to the minimum, think back to his comfortable win in the G3 Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood where he was obviously very smart with more to come. Nigel Tinkler ran UBETTABELIEVEIT in the Gimcrack for no discernable reason, other than a very good lunch, and back over five and at a silly price, looks good e/w value.
STEEL BULL win – UBETTABELIEVEIT e/w
3:15 bet365 Doncaster Cup Stakes (Group 2) (British Champions Series) Cl1 (3yo+) 2m2f
In my view a two-horse race between SPANISH MISSION and EAGLES BY DAY. The former was below par at Goodwood in a race where the pace was muddling, to say the least. He’s changed yards from Simcock to Balding, since and took the Listed Chester Stakes by three lengths. York’s Lonsdale Cup is often a good marker for this race, (12 wins 18 places) since 2002. The value lies with EAGLES BY DAY.
EAGLES BY DAY e/w
3:45 bet365 Flying Scotsman Stakes (Listed Race) Cl1 (2yo) 7f
SPYCATCHER looks a sensible price on ratings, LANEQASH looks dangerous, and NEW MANDATE has Frankie
LANEQASH e/w – NEW MANDATE e/w – CFC with SPYCATCHER
4.15 – MAIDEN STAKES – 7F – CLASS 3