O'Brien juggernaut rolls on as Sioux Nation makes it sweet 16
Gordon Elliott was seeking a first Group 1 success and Aidan O'Brien an incredible 16th victory in the Phoenix Stakes, and it was the Ballydoyle juggernaut that rolled on after Sioux Nation defeated Beckford by half a length.
O'Brien had first won the Phoenix in 1998 with Lavery, when it was run at Leopardstown, and Sioux Nation was following up his victory in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The 2-1 second favourite, under a confident ride from Ryan Moore, hit the front entering the final furlong and held the strong challenge of 15-8 market leader Beckford, with the winner's stablemate Actress a length and a half back in third.
O'Brien, winning the Keeneland-backed contest for the fourth year on the spin, said: "Sioux Nation is progressing all the time and Ryan was very happy with him today. He showed a lot of speed to win over five furlongs at Royal Ascot but we were happy stepping him back up to six today.
"He's a big, powerful colt but a very relaxed one. He could get seven furlongs."
He added: "The National Stakes back here next month and the Middle Park are races we'll consider. Maybe the Breeders's Cup too. The ground will be important when it comes to running him next. With the pace he has, the better the ground the more he likes it - we wouldn't be keen on running him on very soft ground."
Sioux Nation can be backed at 25-1 for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, while Beckford is available at the same price, though bet365 cut him to 16-1 (from 20) despite him suffering a first defeat here on his third start. The two could meet again before too long.
Elliott was proud of Railway Stakes winner Beckford's performance, saying: "He's run a great race and there are no real excuses. We were beaten by a better horse on the day.
"What I loved about our horse was the way he fought back towards the finish. The ground was probably as tight as he'd want it.
"We'll see how he comes out of the race before making plans. We might look at the National Stakes or maybe the Middle Park. We'll see."
Declan McDonogh, rider of Beckford, said: "It was a very good run. Ryan brought the winner from behind me and they quickened to put one length between us. It took my horse a while to get going but he closed the gap and went down fighting.
"Beckford probably wouldn't want the ground any quicker than it was today, although he never changed leads and travelled well for most of the race. He did come off the bridle a bit earlier than I expected and though we closed all the way to the line the winner just had a gear over us."
US Navy Flag - another trained by O'Brien - finished fourth, with Frozen Angel doing best of the two British raiders in fifth. The other, Helvetian, brought up the rear.