Siskin is ready to put his unbeaten record on the line and take on Pinatubo, says trainer Ger Lyons, in a Group 1 Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes to savour at the Curragh on Sunday week.
The son of First Defence, considered by many to be the best horse that Lyons has trained, is four from four as a two-year-old this season, and he showed an excellent attitude in beating the Aidan O'Brien-trained Monarch Of Egypt in a memorable renewal of the Phoenix Stakes to give Lyons and Colin Keane a first domestic Group 1 success last month.
Khalid Abdullah's colt is being trained to take on Pinatubo, who is also unbeaten, and whatever else is thrown at him in the €400,000 contest on September 15.
Lyons said: “He's in great shape and he is being driven by his trainer with the National Stakes on Sunday week in mind, even if I would be very nervous taking on Pinatubo!
“He was exceptionally impressive at Goodwood but Siskin has a Group 1 win under his belt, even if he is a good bit below three of them on ratings and ratings don't lie.
“That said, he only did what he was asked to do, and I have been very happy with him. I would have no problem on nice ground taking on anyone over seven furlongs and whatever beats Pinatubo will likely be champion two-year-old.
“It would certainly be a good duel and the great thing about the timing of the race is that you can still run in the Dewhurst at the end of the campaign. If the ground dictates he goes elsewhere, Siskin also has the option of the Middle Park at Newmarket.”
Lyons conceded that the closer Siskin got to the Phoenix Stakes, the more nervous his trainer was about the testing terrain, with nicer ground expected at the Curragh for Longines Irish Champions Weekend.
“He's impressed me. The Phoenix was a case of no horse really liking the ground, but everyone was telling me he'd struggle with it due to his pedigree and in the carpark beforehand I was getting worried.
“I had never really thought about it much beforehand to be honest but then a lot of people were talking about the ground. He showed a great attitude and, all going well, he is being trained as a Guineas horse next season.
Lyons admits that his main other player on Longines Irish Champions Weekend, Who's Steph, is an unlikely runner unless the terrain eases appreciably. Who's Steph is entered in the Group 2 Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes and the Group 1 Comer Group International Irish St Leger, both also at the Curragh.
“She is possibly my favourite horse in the yard, but it is rare enough she gets her ground. She is not quite a Group 1 filly and, in that league, everything needs to be in her favour.
“She'd really want it soft to heavy or heavy,” he said, before adding that Irish Champions Weekend was “the perfect crescendo to the Irish Flat season”.