Weekend Takeaways from The Curragh, Kilbeggan and Downpatrick


Monday, August 12, 2019
ger-lyons-curragh

Hot Howard

Don’t say you weren’t put on notice! The layers are definitely going to have to reconsider their odds THEY OFFER Aidan Howard’s horses on the Flat at the moment and on Friday, we signposted his prodigious strike rate on the level.

Within hours, Lady Jane Wilde had improved it further, making light of her inexperience to win the Irish Stallion Farms Maiden impressively on debut at Headquarters and give Howard his fifth winner from his previous seven representatives on the Flat going back to the middle of June.

It isn’t a run that could keep going and Enter The Red and Thefaithfulindian did not figure subsequently but it illustrates once again the Curragh conditioner’s obvious talents.

He will have been pleased too with Drumcliff’s reappearance in the Joe Cooney Memorial Hurdle at Kilbeggan on Saturday. It was the JP McManus-owned gelding’s first run under his stewardship and a first racecourse appearance since falling when travelling very well in the 2018 Galway Plate.

Drumcliff moved well here too and will undoubtedly improve significantly for the exertions of finishing fourth after such a long lay-off, 13 ½ lengths shy of facile victor Westland Row, who was piloted by Denis O’Regan for owner Caren Walsh and trainer Gordon Elliott.

Ryan gets it right

John Ryan is renowned for campaigning his charges regularly due to their supreme fitness and durability. Still, one wondered about his enduring optimism when Summer Hill pitched up in the Trackars Homecare Maiden Hurdle at Downpatrick yesterday, having been pulled up in Kilbeggan the day before.

When you spend so much time with horses though, you know what they like and you learn their moods. It was evident to Ryan that Summer Hill did not take to Kilbeggan and we can say with a fair degree of certainty that the six-year-old son of Scorpion will not be turning up there again.

He certainly enjoys Downpatrick though and in trademark fashion for many of the Ryan representatives, took up the running when the pace was not to Hugh Morgan’s liking, gradually pulling clear to win by a mammoth 17 lengths.

Morgan was taking over from Liam Quinlan, who had done much of a schooling work on Summer Hill and partnered him the previous day but was unavailable due to illness.

Ryan made the decision to run after giving Summer Hill a canter and a pop over a hurdle in the morning. He liked what he saw and the rest is history.

 

Maiden domestic G1 for Lyons

The trajectory of Ger Lyons’s career and the manner in which he has moved towards the summit of the Flat training ranks in Ireland is a salutary lesson to any young handler choosing a career in racing.

A journeyman jump jockey in England, Lyons returned to train in Ireland after his retirement and while originally focusing on the National Hunt sector he knew so well – he conditioned three graded winners, including the Grade 1 Powers Gold Cup with the Ruby Walsh-ridden Big-And-Bold – soon turned his hand to the level, as a more viable means of running an operation on a sound business footing.

He did this through a model of buying horses he felt were undervalued, winning races with them and selling them at a profit. Doing this, he was able to increase the quality of his string incrementally. As his judgement in talent-spotting and ability to train kept paying off, the numbers of winners increased and Lyons built a state-of-the-art training facility in Glenburnie in his native Meath.

When Johnny Murtagh booted Lightening Pearl to victory in the Cheveley Park Stakes eight years ago, it was a maiden Group 1 but breaking through in Ireland took longer. In the meantime, he provided the foundation for his stable jockey, Colin Keane’s championship-winning campaign in 2017.

Juddmonte boss Khalid Abdullah was suitably impressed and started sending some blue bloods Lyons’s way in the last two years and on Friday, Lyons repaid the faith when Siskin dealt impressively with strong opposition and the soft underground conditions to bag the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh.

It was a first domestic Group 1 winner at last for Lyons and a first on home soil too for Keane, who had recorded his only previous top-tier triumph on Laganore, in the Premio Lydia Tesio in Italy for Tony Martin in 2017.

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