Atomic Jones came with a storming run down the outside to lift the Group Two KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes and complete a quick double for trainer Ger Lyons and jockey Colin Keane at Leopardstown.
Absent since making a winning debut at the Curragh 11 weeks ago, Atomic Jones (10-1) overpowered the opposition in the final half-furlong to give the Lyons team a fairytale start to Irish Champions Weekend.
There were plenty in with chances a furlong out – but it was the Wootton Bassett colt who came out on top by half a length in a bunch finish.
Stone Age was second with Absolute Ruler half a length away in third place.
“He’s done for the year I’d say, he’s a real horse for next year over a mile plus,” said Lyons, who is based in County Meath.
“He’s a big, huge baby and I didn’t even expect to be running him this year, never mind winning two.
“I’d say he’s a smart horse, plenty of ability. He’s done that without even knowing he’s done it, just pure raw ability.
“I think he’s typical of the sire, good, strong and dependable.
“We’d always start them at a mile (next year), but I’d say more than a mile will be his trip.”
Panama Red initiated the brace when stepping up from a maiden success to land the Listed honours in the Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes.
The Showcasing filly had got off the mark at the third attempt at Tipperary and had no trouble doing the business and springing a small surprise.
Corviglia led into the final furlong, but Keane delivered Panama Red (11-1) with a well-timed run to hit the front and stride away to score by half a length.
The well-backed 2-1 favourite Limiti Di Greccio stayed on well for second place with Corviglia a length and three-quarters away in third.
There was drama in the early stages when Shane Crosse was unseated after his mount Voice Of Angels clipped heels. He was able to walk away after the incident while the Joseph O’Brien-trained filly carried on riderless.
It was a triumphant return for Lyons, who was at the track for the first time since the Irish Guineas meeting in June last year.
“That’s brilliant. I had intended to come back today. I’ve been saying it all my career that you don’t need trainers at the racing, the staff do the job and they’ve proved it,” he said.
“We’re here today because it’s the biggest day on the Irish calendar. It’s very important to us and we’ve targeted the meeting.
“We’re lucky enough to have horses to target the meeting and we’re blessed to get a winner on the first start, which is fantastic. We’ll have plenty of runners, not as many tomorrow but plenty today. It’s a good start and hopefully there is more to come.”
He added of the winner: “In fairness today was her Derby, no disrespect to her but she’s a work in progress. We know she’s a miler for next year and we’ll probably put her away now and let her grow up.
“We’ll probably start her back in one of the trials, but I’ll have a word and see what Colin thinks.
“Colin gave her a great ride. That’s just him, we’re just riding the wave with him and we’re lucky to have him.”
Real Appeal (14-1) burst late on the scene to snatch victory in the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile.
The Jessica Harrington-trained gelding produced a decisive turn of foot to sweep into the lead after being held up in the early stages, collecting the Group Two prize in blistering fashion under Shane Foley.
The same trainer-jockey combination were completing a quick big-race double after taking the Group One Matron Stakes with No Speak Alexander just half an hour earlier.
Richard Fahey’s British raider Fev Rover finished strongly to claim second place, a head in front of Horoscope. Harrington’ other runner, Njord, was just a neck back in fourth.
“I don’t think my heart will stand much more, it’s still pounding,” said Harrington.
“To have two winners on Champions Day is absolutely amazing. We came here today saying we could have one of those nearly weekends, with everything running really well and not getting a winner.
“Now to have two winners is absolutely amazing. For No Speak Alexander to win a Group One is great.
“Shane came in and said Real Appeal is 10lb better here than any other racecourse. He’s won three races here now and he does nothing but improve.
“It’s the first time he’s won over a mile and it’s really worked out. He’s a funny horse, when he gets to the front he pulls himself up.”
Lyons completed a big-day treble when Camorra (18-1) sprang a surprise in the Group Three Paddy Power Stakes.
Gary Carroll was able to get an uncontested lead on the Zoffany gelding into the straight. The Aidan O’Brien-trained Innisfree, the 5-2 favourite, was about to deliver a strong challenge for Ryan Moore when he sadly went wrong.
The other Lyons runner, Thunder Kiss, stayed on well for second place, a neck behind. Forbearance was a head back in third.
Lyons said: “What a day and that’s special because Gary is such a huge part of the team. To give him a Champions Weekend winner is fantastic.
“He’s as nice a person as you could meet and probably the best judge in Ireland, so he’s a huge asset to me.
“He has enough intelligence and enough experience to read what the race is doing and then has the confidence to do what he did. It was the winning of the race so fair play to him.
“You don’t like beating yourself, but isn’t it a high-class problem? I was happy with two for the weekend and anything after that was a bonus.
“As long as they all run their races, that’s our rules. I didn’t want to be going home scratching my head.
“Champions Weekend is special. It was a great innovation by Irish racing and it’s getting stronger and stronger.”
Harrington and Foley celebrated their own trebles when Ever Present (17-2) defied the steadier of 10st in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Petingo’ Premier Handicap.
The trainer is already looking to next year’s Ebor at York with the Elusive Pimpernel gelding.
“It’s fantastic and I’m thrilled for that horse because having won two amateur races here I thought they put him in at a fairly high mark of 95. Then I go to the Curragh and get beaten and they put him up another 5lb,” said Harrington.
“I think he could be a proper Ebor horse next year, that’s the plan. He just likes nice ground.
“He absolutely loves it around here and Leopardstown does just suit some horses.”
Masen (11-2) capped a remarkable day for the Lyons team when bounding clear of the opposition to give the stable a four-timer in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Sovereign Path’ Premier Handicap. It was a treble for Keane.
“It’s what dreams are made of. The team as a whole deserve huge credit, they knew this is what I was targeting all year,” said Lyons.
“I said all year that Champions Weekend was where we were going and whatever we have is going to be aimed at it. It’s one thing saying that but another delivering it, everything has to fall right for you and it has.
“That horse I thought the world of, he’s had his issues but he ran a blinder in Killarney coming back off a long lay-off.
“He’s a work in progress, he’s not doing things right yet and when he does he’ll be a nice horse.
“The improvement is in the mental side of things, he’s going to have to enjoy his work on the track. He’s not like that at home, butter wouldn’t melt with him at home.”