An epic Champion
Stakes may have stolen the limelight but there was plenty more to entertain the
returning 4,000-strong crowd at Leopardstown, writes Jack Lacey-Hatton.
A day which ended up belonging to two trainers in particular started with an upset as Panama Red convincingly took the Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes.
Powered by the Ger Lyons-Colin Keane combination, she was challenged inside the final furlong but moved up a gear to hold off pre-race favourite Limiti Di Greccio.
Pre-race, the Champions Juvenile Stakes looked like being a straight shoot-out between Buckaroo and Stone Age.
However, in the end it was another Lyons-Keane runner, the 10-1 shot Atomic Jones, who edged out a thrillingly tight finish, taking it by
Clad in owner Sean Jones’ trademark blue and white colours, the colt made it two wins from two starts after a late charge down the outside.
In the Group Two Boomerang Mile, Jessica Harrington had a second winner in quick succession following No Speak Alexander’s success in the Matron Stakes, with Real Appeal flying home.
The bay gelding produced a wonderful charge inside the final 150yards to make it a dream half an hour for Harrington and co.
Just 30 days previously at Leopardstown he had finished third behind Georgeville but there was no danger of that happening this time around.
“These are the days you dream of,” Harrington said. “To win a Group 1 and then to turn around and win a Group 2 is fantastic.
“The horses are in good order. He (Real Appeal) is consistent and deserved this. He won a Group 3 here and this has been the plan ever since.
“We waited with him and he delivered today.”
One of the day’s tightest finishes came in the Group Three Paddy Power Stakes. The Ger Lyons-trained four year-old Camorra pipped stablemate Thunder Kiss by a neck.
With Gary Carroll on board, he saw a two-length lead significantly reduced in the closing stages but managed to cling on for Lyons’ second win of the day.
“Gary is a huge part of the team, so to give him a Champions Weekend winner is fantastic,” he said.
A good afternoon later became a great one for the Harrington-Foley combination, when Ever Present produced a remarkable late charge to win a dramatic “Petingo” Handicap.
The 17-2 shot won by half a length, edging out the favourite, the Dermot Weld-trained Ciel D’afrique.
After the race Shane Foley reflected on a brilliant afternoon for both himself and Harrington.
"What a day, it has been fantastic,” he said.
“We knew we had a few chances today, we fancied a few.
“But for it to all come together is brilliant. You can feel the atmosphere. When you are riding good horses in good races, you feel that buzz about the place.
“You can sense it today, obviously the Champion Stakes was a great race as well. It is great to be of part of today.”
The day was rounded off by an excellent win for Masen in the “Sovereign Path” handicap.
Going off at 11-2, the Juddmonte-owned three-year-old built on a credible second at Killarney last month, leading throughout the closing stages despite a late push from San Andreas.
That result gave a fourth win of the afternoon for Ger Lyons, just edging out Harrington’s three on a day neither trainer will forget in a hurry.