Lyons and Colin Keane dominated the opening night of the Dubai Duty Free Irish
Derby Festival, banging in three winners on a chilly night at the Curragh, writes Tom Harle.
The Meath team landed Friday’s big prize, the Group 2 Comer Group International Curragh Cup, won impressively by Camorra.
The five-year-old was a Group 3 winner at Irish Champions Weekend but needed a big run after three sluggish displays on the trot.
A big run was what transpired as the Champion Jockey coaxed a great run out of Camorra, who went to post at 10-1, and wasn’t mentioned in many previews of the race.
“We love this horse, he’s one of the yard favourites,” says Lyons.
“He’s a gorgeous physical specimen, he’s matured and he’s no good without blinkers. He surprised us when he won at Champions Weekend on top of the ground.”
The race was billed as a battle of the O’Briens and Gear Up for Joseph O’Brien led for the majority of the 1m6f contest.
Wordsworth, ridden by Ryan Moore for Aidan O’Brien, came to challenge but it was Camorra who found the perfect spot and exploded past Gear Up in the closing stages.
Lyons is famously a reluctant traveller but Camorra is now almost certain to take a trip Down Under to the Melbourne Cup.
Four of the last seven winners have gone on to feature in Australia’s most famous Thoroughbred race.
“We were protecting him with the Ebor in mind and then this came around. I’ve already got a few texts that have said ‘Melbourne Cup?’”
It was the highlight of a memorable evening for Lyons and Keane. They had already won the opening race of the Festival as Slan Abhaile, priced at 11-1, edged a competitive renewal of the Brentford FC Sponsors The Garden Province Irish EBF Maiden.
Keane also rode favourite Mutasarref to victory in the Hollywoodbets We're Painting Ireland Purple Handicap.
Meanwhile, in the DNG Apprentice Derby Common Practice ensured Joseph O’Brien did pick up a winner, with Dylan Browne McMonagle in the saddle.
The 3-1 favourite had enough to tank to catch Alma Libre in the closing stages.
The night belonged to the 27-year-old, who will ride leading contender Westover in Saturday's Irish Derby.
Keane picked up his fourth and final winner of the night on-board Maze Runner in the Hollywoodbets sponsored EBF Handicap, for trainer Willie Mullins.