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Colin Keane sets new record for winners in a season in Ireland

Champion jockey Colin Keane set a new record for winners in a season in Ireland as he landed his 127th victory of the campaign aboard Power Under Me at the Curragh.

Keane – who equalled the best set by Joseph O’Brien with a winner at Dundalk on Friday – was always to the fore aboard Ger Lyons’ 15-8 favourite in the Listed Hatstone Solicitors Waterford Testimonial Stakes.

Forging on from inside the two-furlong marker, the market leader briefly looked set to face a stern challenge from Teresa Mendoza – but ultimately was good value for his two-and-three-quarter-length victory.

Keane said: “We’ve been getting close to it slowly but surely – I’ve had plenty of seconds in the last two weeks.

“It was great to level it for the boss and then to go and beat it for the boss is even better.

“It hasn’t sunk in and probably won’t until we start on zero next year and we’re looking back on it.

“We try to beat every year’s tally, we mightn’t have a year like this again for a while so we’ll appreciate it while it’s here.”

Keane, 27, was champion for the first time in 2017 and regained the title last year, while O’Brien notched up his biggest tally when claiming it for the second year running back in 2013.

Among Keane’s notable successes of 2021 are Group Ones on Helvic Dream in the Tattersalls Gold Cup and, further afield, Broome in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

All smiles for record-breaker Colin Keane at the Curragh
All smiles for record-breaker Colin Keane at the Curragh (PA)

In 2020, he enjoyed his first Classic victories on Siskin in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and Even So in the Irish Oaks – as well as the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Tarnawa.

Paying his tribute to Keane, Lyons said: “Colin is a credit to himself, his family and the whole racing industry. He’s a fine example of what a champion jockey should be. He keeps himself to himself and lets his riding do the talking.

“You see Billy Lee going over to shake his hand after the race and that tells you all you need to know about the huge respect he has in the weighing room. He’s just a genuinely good guy.

“The industry is full of people trying to make heroes out of X, Y and Z but Colin has done it his way, the old-fashioned way – his riding doing all the talking.

“Every winner he rides from now until the end of the season is going to be a record and, you know what, next season he will want to better whatever total he finishes with this season so he is going to keep us on our toes!

Keane indeed wasted little time in adding to his total, winning the following Duralock Racecourse Fencing Handicap with Pretty Boy Floyd (15-2) for trainer Sarah Dawson.

Prolific Colin Keane equals Irish record

Colin Keane equalled Joseph O’Brien’s record of 126 winners in a season in Ireland when steering Torn to victory at Dundalk.

The 27-year-old, already guaranteed a third Irish jockeys’ title this season, got the well-backed 13-8 favourite home in the opening Irish EBF Median Sires Series Fillies Maiden.

It was a fitting success because Keane is stable jockey to Torn’s trainer Ger Lyons – although the filly got into the race only as a reserve before making the most of her opportunity to get off the mark at the third attempt.

Torn was held up in second-last place in the early stages and kept hidden until the straight, where Keane produced her on the outside to challenge eventual runner-up Queens Command. Hitting the front in the final furlong, Torn won by a cosy three-quarters of a length.

Keane was champion for the first time in 2017 and regained the title last year, while O’Brien notched up his biggest tally when claiming it for the second year running back in 2013.

Keane has had this year’s title race sewn up for some time, and victory on Torn took him 50 clear of his closest pursuer Shane Foley – who was in action at Newmarket.

Among Keane’s notable successes of 2021 are Group Ones on Helvic Dream in the Tattersalls Gold Cup and, further afield, Broome in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

In 2020, he enjoyed his first Classic victories on Siskin in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and Even So in the Irish Oaks – as well as the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Tarnawa.

After equalling the record, Keane said: “It’s brilliant to get it. I’m in a very lucky position, because I ride for a lot of great people.

“I have great people around me, have a very good agent – and I’m riding nice horses.

“All those things together make this happen. It’s been an unbelievable season – the way it has gone from strength to strength, and we’ve had some nice winners in between.

“To get to this number is just unbelievable to be honest.”

Assistant trainer Shane Lyons added: “It’s a massive thrill for us for him to get the record in Sean Jones’ colours, because he’s been our main stalwart.

“Sean will get a kick out of it, and we’ll get an even bigger kick.”

Straight Answer delivers clear-cut Blenheim verdict

Straight Answer maintained his perfect racecourse record when taking the Listed Ballyhane Blenheim Stakes at Fairyhouse.

The Ger Lyons-trained two-year-old, who is owned and was bred by Juddmonte, won a maiden race on debut at the Curragh in August.

That victory was followed up by another over the same six-furlong trip at Fairyhouse, with the colt this time an impressive five-and-a-half-length winner under Colin Keane.

Starting as the 2-1 favourite, the bay defeated six rivals and was unchallenged from the two-furlong pole to the line.

“We’re absolutely thrilled, he’s a work in progress,” said assistant trainer Shane Lyons.

“Ger and Barry (Mahon – Juddmonte’s European racing manager) will speak to the Abdullah family and see where we go now. He’ll probably be finished for this season.

“He’s a horse that we’ve loved and we have to thank the Abdullah family for bringing horses like this into our yard because this is what we get up in morning for. He’s going to keep us warm over the winter.

“You can see him walking around there, he’s very calm and collected and he’s what a good horse needs to be. He’ll keep us dreaming anyway.”

Lyons up and running with quickfire Leopardstown double

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.

Panama Red (right) takes the Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes
Panama Red (right) takes the Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes (Brian Lawless/PA)

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.

Real Appeal (right) powers home in the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile
Real Appeal (right) powers home in the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile (Brian Lawless/PA)

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.”

Keane hoping new record for Irish winners is ‘very doable’

Colin Keane has an eye on Joseph O’Brien’s record for the most Irish Flat winners ridden in a season after hitting the 100 mark at the weekend.

Barretta aided Keane in reaching a century of winners this term when he took the Donate To The Coast To Curragh Cycle In Memory Of Pat Smullen Maiden at Navan on Saturday.

Keane enjoyed another victory on the Navan card before a busy book of rides at Roscommon’s evening meeting on Monday returned three further successes, leaving him on a current total of 104 winners for the campaign thus far.

That figure sees the jockey at the head of the Irish jockeys’ championship with a significant advantage over second-placed Shane Foley, who currently trails by 48 victories on a total of 56.

With his third championship all but won, Keane now has his sights set on the record for the highest number of winners ever ridden during the Irish Flat season.

The current holder of that honour is jockey-turned-trainer O’Brien, who racked up 126 successes during the 2013 campaign.

“It’s something we didn’t really think of throughout the year,” Keane said.

“Obviously we tried to beat the previous year’s tally and we just hit the ground running this year, the horses have just been in such good form and my agent has done a good job in getting me on the horses when I wasn’t riding for the boss (Ger Lyons) or Mr (Dermot) Weld.

“It’s been winner after winner and I’m just very fortunate to be honest.

“When we got to the 100, the next logical thing was to think about what the record was.

“It’s only in the last week or two that I’ve paid heed to it as such.

“It is probably very doable if we can keep going the way we’re going and fingers crossed we can, we’ll give it a good go.”

Keane was quick to give credit to his agent, Ruaidhri Tierney, who has helped him secure rides for 63 different trainers throughout the season.

“He does a very good job and we work really well together,” he said.

“We don’t put pressure on each other and I let him do his job and he lets me to my job, so we don’t really interfere. I’d say that’s probably why we get on so well.”

Keane relishing Tarnawa tilt at Irish Champion Stakes glory

Colin Keane is backing Tarnawa to hold her own against the colts as the mare prepares to challenge for the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday week – the feature event on day one of Longines Irish Champions Weekend.

The chestnut has been victorious on her last five outings, beginning her 2020 campaign with a Group Three success in the Give Thanks Stakes before collecting back-to-back Group One prizes at ParisLongchamp in both the Prix Vermeille and the Prix de l’Opera.

A trip to Keeneland followed in November for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, with Keane drafted in late on after intended rider Christophe Soumillon was unable to partner the Aga Khan’s star following a positive Covid-19 test.

Soumillon had struck up a good relationship with Tarnawa, something trainer Dermot Weld considered to be a significant factor in their success, but Keane was able to quickly get the measure of the five-year old and steered her to a one-length triumph ahead of Aidan O’Brien’s Magical.

“He (Weld) made it very plain and simple, to not go out there with a plan,” Keane said.

“She’s a filly than can be a little slowly away sometimes and she can be a bit keen, so I just got her to relax a little bit and then from halfway tried to creep my way into it.

“He took a lot of the pressure off me and tried to make it more enjoyable than anything and thankfully it all just worked out on the day.

“We jumped well and I found myself behind Frankie (Dettori, on Lord North) and Ryan (Moore, on Magical), obviously we were inexperienced around a track like that but we were following the right people anyway.

“We didn’t go overly mad and kind of got going from halfway down the back, my filly travelled well and from when we turned in she picked up very well.

“From halfway down the straight I thought I was going to get there, she was a very good winner on the day. It’s hard to describe it.”

Tarnawa has been seen once since that Breeders’ Cup performance, running in the Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown on August 5 – and winning by an emphatic six and a half lengths as 1-2 favourite.

The latter race and the Breeders’ Cup were run over a mile and and a half, with the Irish Champion taking place over 10 furlongs.

“We’re coming back two furlongs which I don’t think will be a problem,” Keane said.

“She’s not a slow filly, she travels strongly and has a good turn of foot at the end of a mile-and-a-half race, but I don’t think the drop back in trip will be an issue.

“She’s not slow, she takes her time to warm into it but she finishes very well as we’ve seen in the past.

“I don’t think it’ll be an issue if it’s lovely good ground.”

Keane considers the daughter of Shamardal to be more physically impressive than ever, having recently ridden her at Weld’s Curragh stable.

“I got to sit on her last Friday morning, we were doing our normal exercise and she seems very well,” he said.

“She’s a lovely big chestnut. She’s got a good character about her, but she’d eat you in the stable.

“She’s a handful, but when she’s going she’s very straightforward and uncomplicated – she’s just a very good filly.

“She’s seems to be a lot stronger physically this year, she had a good break after the Breeders’ Cup and she came back in late.

“She’s done very well over the winter and she’s taken a bit of work to get her to where she is, but she’s definitely stronger physically this year.

St Mark’s Basilica is set to clash with Tarnawa at Leopardstown
St Mark’s Basilica is set to clash with Tarnawa at Leopardstown (Nigel French/PA)

St Mark’s Basilica – brilliant so far this season in picking up the French 2000 Guineas, French Derby and Coral-Eclipse – is the obvious stumbling block to Tarnawa, while crack miler Poetic Flare would merit obvious respect should he step up in trip.

“It’s going to be a very good race,” said Keane.

“St Mark’s Basilica looks very good this year, Poetic Flare has been very good for Mr (Jim) Bolger and Kevin (Manning) so if he turns up it’s going to be a good renewal of the race.

“These are the races we all want to be riding in, you get the most buzz out of them. The best horses, the highest level against the best riders – I’m very much looking forward to it now.”

Ton up for Keane as champion sets relentless pace

Colin Keane celebrated his 100th win of the campaign as Barretta came home a comfortable winner of the Donate To The Coast To Curragh Cycle In Memory Of Pat Smullen Maiden at Navan.

The rider started the day 45 winners clear of Shane Foley in the Irish jockeys’ championship – a title he claimed in both 2017 and 2020 with 100 winners.

He is on course to smash his previous best having steered Barretta to a five-and-a-half-length victory, with Joseph O’Brien’s record of 126 victories now firmly in his sights.

Barretta is trained by Keane’s long-time retained trainer Ger Lyons and he admitted the landmark victory was further enhanced as it was also another success for his boss.

Keane said: “It’s a brilliant feeling and the year has been going great. To hit 100 in a full season is hard enough, so to do it so quickly is unbelievable really.

“But, look, we’re riding for great people and I’ve great people around me and I’ve a very good agent so I’m very fortunate.

“It makes it that little bit extra special that it’s for Ger and it means he’s nearly on 1,000 winners. Hopefully we’ll get that one ticked off soon for him.”

Lyons has provided the lion’s share of Keane’s rides this year, but he has also forged a fine alliance with Dermot Weld, riding 17 winners for the handler including Arc hopeful Tarnawa, and partnered a first French Group One winner when teaming up with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Broome in last month’s Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

He added: “Ger has got such a lovely bunch of horses, the connection with Mr Weld has helped and we’re coming in for a lot of spares with other people.

“The long and the short of it is that I’m riding for very good people and I’ve got a very good agent.”

Sacred Bridge books Cheveley Park ticket in Round Tower triumph

Sacred Bridge stretched her unbeaten record to four with a brilliant victory in the Heider Family Stables Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh.

The Ger Lyons-trained filly pulled away from her rivals in the final furlong to win the Group Three contest over six furlongs in superb fashion.

The 15-8 favourite, wearing the Juddmonte colours, took charge from her stablemate Geocentric over a furlong out and quickly put daylight between herself and the opposition in the hands of Colin Keane.

Galloping on relentlessly, Sacred Bridge crossed the line three and three-quarter lengths clear of Geocentric to give the County Meath stable a one-two. Ladies Church was three-quarters of a length away in third place.

Sacred Bridge created a big impression with her victory
Sacred Bridge created a big impression with her victory (Brian Lawless/PA)

Paddy Power halved Sacred Bridge in price to 6-1 for the Juddmonte-sponsored Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket on September 25 – and that is set to be the target.

Shane Lyons, assistant to his brother, said: “She was very impressive. We’ll freshen her up now and go for the Cheveley Park.

“As Colin says she has to step up again, but why wouldn’t she? She’s a diamond and as Ger says, that’s what we get up for in the morning.

“She’s push-button and long may she continue like that. Colin was very impressed with her and said why worry about getting a trip next year, just enjoy her as we have her now. She’s very relaxed anyway and horses get trips when they are like that.

“We’re delighted with the two fillies. Ger said to Colin the other morning that it wasn’t an easy decision the way Geocentric works and she’ll step back to five now.”

Acanella initiated a big-race double for Ger Lyons and Colin Keane in the Juddmonte colours
Acanella initiated a big-race double for Ger Lyons and Colin Keane in the Juddmonte colours (Brian Lawless/PA)

It was a quick Group Three double for the Lyons-Keane-Juddmonte axis, after Acanella had sprung a 16-1 surprise in the Snow Fairy Fillies Stakes.

The three-year-old had to find more on ratings – but she was entitled to improve as she only made her debut in April and was having her sixth start.

Keane had her in a good position to pounce after Solene Lilyette had made her bid for glory in the last two furlongs.

Acanella quickened clear and was able to hold the late thrust of Champers Elysees by three-quarters of a length.

Oodnadatta was the same distance away in third. Shale, the 11-4 favourite, was half a length back in fourth having had every chance.

Lyons added: “We’re delighted and she’s done what we were hoping for all year. She’s a big filly that is only filling into her frame and will be even better next year.

“She did everything right for the first time today. She broke well, she travelled well for Colin and while she’s not ground dependent she loved that ground.

“She’ll get a bit further if she has to and next year is going to be fun for her.”

Point Lonsdale posts emphatic victory in Futurity Stakes

Aidan O’Brien’s leading juvenile Point Lonsdale continued his seamless career progression so far as he remained unbeaten with a dominant display in the Group Two Galileo Irish EBF Futurity Stakes at the Curragh.

Point Lonsdale, previously successful in his maiden over this course and distance, the Listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and then a Leopardstown Group three last month, was a 1-6 favourite to take another rise in class in his stride.

The Australia colt duly did so, assuming control from an early stage under Ryan Moore and easily maintaining and ultimately stretching his advantage to win by more than four lengths from Maritime Wings.

Point Lonsdale took care of the same opponent on his previous appearance, and his Chesham form had been substantiated earlier in the day when runner-up Reach For The Moon was a decisive Group Three winner at Sandown.

Bookmakers responded to his latest demonstration of superiority by shortening him half a point into 3-1 for the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, while he also retains his grip at the head of the market for both the 2000 Guineas and Derby.

O’Brien quickly confirmed, however, that Point Lonsdale’s next assignment will be a third appearance over this same course and distance – in next month’s Group One Vincent O’Brien National Stakes

The Ballydoyle trainer said: “We’re delighted with him. He’s a lovely, straightforward horse.

“He relaxes, he quickens – and his head goes down to the ground when you ask him. He’s happy to go in front, but if someone wants to lead him, great. When you want him he quickens. He’s a classy horse.

“He wouldn’t like that (yielding) ground – he wants good or better to be ideal, because he’s a lovely mover.

“He’ll come back here for the National Stakes – that’s the plan.”

Agartha was an all-the-way winner of the preceding Group Two on the card, for the two-year-old fillies in the Alpha Centauri Debutante Stakes.

Declan McDonogh bounced Joseph O’Brien’s Agartha out in front – and as the race developed, she always had matters under control to win by two lengths as the 4-1 co-favourite of four.

The daughter of Caravaggio, racing for the sixth time in a busy campaign, was unable to win a maiden in four attempts but sprang a surprise in a Leopardstown Group Three last month – and confirmed her improvement over the same trip here.

Sunset Shiraz, the only maiden in the eight-strong field, stayed on from off the pace to get closest to the winner – but Agartha was in no danger from the 25-1 outsider.

O’Brien’s assistant Brendan Powell said: “She’s unreal, she’s tough – and Declan said she seems to go on any ground.

“Last time out he made plenty of use of her, and he’s done the same today. You could see them trying to come at her one by one.

“Shane (Crosse) was on the other one (fourth-placed stablemate Seisai) and said they went a proper gallop.

“She seems to stay well – she gallops well and puts her head down. Most of all. she’s an absolute trier.

“I know most were over shorter trips, but it makes you wonder how she didn’t win her maiden. You don’t mind that, with what she’s done now!”

Dual champion jockey Colin Keane had a treble in the bag after the opening three races – all juvenile maidens.

Both Eclat De Lumiere and Straight Answer were successful on their respective racecourse debuts, and then Duke De Sessa was an emphatic winning favourite on his second career start.

Dermot Weld’s well-bred filly Eclat De Lumiere struck late down the middle of the track in the Stallion Farms EBF Maiden, for a half-length success from favourite Benitoite at 7-2 – in the colours of Moyglare Stud.

Juddmonte’s Kodiac colt Straight Answer, trained by Ger Lyons, took control of the DMG Media Irish EBF Maiden mid-race on the way to a length-and-a-quarter victory as 15-8 favourite from Rhea Moon.

Then Keane completed his treble, and a double for Weld, when 6-4 shot Duke De Sessa proved far too good for the opposition in the Coolmore Arizona Irish EBF Maiden – winning by almost five lengths.

Weld confirmed his high opinion of the winner, and Classic aspirations next year.

He said: “He’s a lovely colt.

“He was probably unlucky not to win in Galway but he’s progressed from that and learned from that day. You could call him a winner a long way down there.

“He’ll have one more run this year in a Group race. I’ll speak with (owner) Maurice Regan and see which one we’ll pick.

“He’s a very smart colt and a lovely horse to look forward to – a potential Guineas horse for next year.”

Tarnawa returns with impressive Leopardstown victory

Triple Group One-winning mare Tarnawa made a thoroughly impressive return to action in the Grant Thornton Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown.

Dermot Weld’s stable star enjoyed a spectacular and unbeaten campaign in 2020, landing back-to-back Group One victories in France before providing her trainer with a first Breeders’ Cup win at Keeneland.

Making her first competitive appearance since the last of those triumphs in November, Tarnawa appeared to face a relatively straightforward task in Thursday’s Group Three feature – and ultimately got the job done with the minimum of fuss.

The five-year-old was fresh during the preliminaries, with her groom briefly taking a tumble when leading her out on to the track, and she had to be loaded into the starting stalls without jockey Colin Keane on her back.

Once the gates opened, however, the 1-2 favourite was as good as gold – travelling well in midfield for much of the mile and a half contest before readily moving on to the heels of the leaders rounding the home turn.

Once given her head, the Shamardal mare quickened six and a half lengths clear of Silence Please, who was in turn 13 lengths ahead of the third-placed Hector De Maris.

Weld said: “It was her first run back after a long absence – and as you could see, she was carrying a few kilos extra compared to last year.

“I had to be extra careful with her after the wonderful dry spell that we’ve had, and my only concern was that I may have left her a little too short.

Dermot Weld was delighted with Tarnawa's comeback
Dermot Weld was delighted with Tarnawa’s comeback (Niall Carson/PA)

“She has not been away to a racetrack and has done all her work at home. I’d have loved to have got her away about two weeks ago, but it just wasn’t possible.

“She has been training extremely well at home and has probably strengthened since last year.

“I thought she was very impressive. She is a wonderful mare, becaue she won the Breeders’ Cup Turf on firm ground and two Group ones at Longchamp on heavy.

“She just cruised there tonight.”

Paddy Power trimmed Tarnawa’s odds for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe to 7-1 from 8-1. Dual Oaks-winning filly Snowfall and Derby and King George hero Adayar are the top two in the market, at 3-1 and 4-1 respectively.

Weld confirmed the Arc as Tarnawa’s major target, with the Irish Champion Stakes back at Leopardstown next month considered the most likely stepping-stone to Paris.

“The Arc is the plan and the main reason for keeping her in training, while the Irish Champion Stakes probably fits into the programme,” the trainer added.

“The Prix Vermeille would be a possibility, but the Irish Champion is probably favourite for her next race.

“This year’s crop of horses look outstanding, and she has joined an outstanding team of horses to look forward to in the autumn.”

Sacred Bridge strikes in Naas feature

Sacred Bridge maintained her unbeaten record and bagged the lion’s share of the huge prize-money up for grabs in the Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes at Naas.

An impressive winner on her racecourse debut at the County Kildare circuit in June, the Ger Lyons-trained filly successfully stepped up to Listed class on her second start at Tipperary.

The daughter of Bated Breath was the 15-8 favourite to complete her hat-trick in this €300,000 contest – and after moving towards the front a a furlong out, she dug deep for Colin Keane to see off the challenge of Richard Hannon’s British challenger Bosh by half a length.

Ultramarine was best of the rest in third, with Ever Given – an impressive nursery winner at Goodwood Friday – a creditable fourth.

Shane Lyons, the winning trainer’s brother and assistant, said: “That was a tough ask with her penalty. Obviously we were attracted by this race with the sponsors, Ballyhane and Joe Foley, and the big pot.

“We’re glad it’s over. Colin said she’s versatile, five or six (furlongs), and she’s getting sharper with her runs.”

Sacred Bridge is likely to be step up to Pattern class on her next start.

“She’s in all the early closers, all the fancy races, and we’ll be campaigning her now in Group races,” Lyons added.

“It’s great to train for these people (Juddmonte) – the pedigrees are second to none.

“We’ll get serious now with the early closers she’s in and take it from there.”

Joseph O’Brien saddled the first two winners of the afternoon, with the Albula particularly impressive when making a winning debut in the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden.

Joseph O'Brien is excited about Albula
Joseph O’Brien is excited by Albula (Simon Cooper/PA)

Seemingly unfancied at 12-1, the daughter of Galileo was good value for the winning margin of a length and a quarter over Dabana.

O’Brien said: “She won nicely and Declan (McDonogh) gave her a lovely ride.

“We liked her at home, I’m surprised that she won but we thought she’d run a nice race. She’s an exciting filly.

“She’ll step into a Listed or Group race now.”

O’Brien doubled up with the Shane Crosse-ridden Ulster Blackwater (5-2) in the Naas Race For Barretstown Children Fillies Maiden.

Mooneista sparkles in Sapphire Stakes

Mooneista gave trainer Jack Davison his biggest success when storming home in the Group Two Paddy Power Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh.

The three-year-old came with a blistering run to complete a quick Group-race double for jockey Colin Keane after he had steered Beauty Inspire to victory in the Anglesey Stakes.

Mooneista (10-1) was held up in the early stages as Strong Johnson set the pace, with Make A Challenge, Gustavus Weston and Logo Hunter prominent.

It was all change in the final furlong as Mooneista burst on the scene to stamp his authority on proceedings and win by a length and a quarter. Gustavus Weston was second with Romantic Proposal third, a further two and three-quarter lengths away.

“I’m never short of words and this filly is able to walk the walk which is really good for both of us, she has backed me up,” said Davison.

“I’ve thought highly of her from her early days. To get her to develop and come and win these type of races on a big weekend is really pleasing.

“Colin is as cool as you like and he said it was a matter of pushing the button. He felt like he had loads of horse under him the whole way. She’s a little monster really.

“She’s in the Flying Five on Champions weekend so we’ll have a crack at that all going well.

“She’s ground versatile. There isn’t a whole lot of her so (Royal) Ascot was too soft, she can’t operate on that as she’s very quick. The easy side of good is probably perfect.

“This is absolutely huge. It’s a really tough game and it’s very hard to get these horses. I’m very lucky to have her.”

The County Meath-based handler went on: “We’ve 25 of them and we put a lot into training all of them. It’s just nice when you have one that can compete and win at this level. It really just keeps you going and encourages you to push forward.

“For me it’s about quality rather than quantity. It’s just so competitive in Ireland and I don’t see myself training low-grade horses in 10 or 15 years, trying to compete at that level.

“We are working hard to try to up the quality the whole time. We have some nice fillies and support from good owners.”

Beauty Inspire stays unbeaten at the Curragh

Beauty Inspire got on top in the closing stages to maintain his unbeaten record in the Jebel Ali Racecourse And Stables Anglesey Stakes at the Curragh.

Ger Lyons’ two-year-old backed up his course success three weeks earlier to bag the Group Three prize over six and a half furlongs in determined fashion.

Sent off the 1-2 favourite it was only in the final half-furlong Beauty Inspire asserted after Hadman had made the running.

The Mehmas colt appreciated the slightly extra distance from his debut to win by a length and a quarter from Andreas Vesalius in the hands of Colin Keane.

Shane Lyons, assistant to his brother, said: “He wasn’t as visually as impressive as the first day, but the first day was only a maiden.

“To be honest it looks like he hasn’t learned an awful lot from the first day. He was very keen in the race and probably disappointed himself a little, as he’s a horse that can’t hit the front too soon because he’s still a baby.

“He did fight for Colin after. He’s a Christian at home and he’s obviously a very good horse.”

Asked about plans, he added: “We’ll take him home and let him tell us when he’s ready again. It could be the Phoenix or the Middle Park. He has entries in York as well.

“We think he’ll come on an awful lot from that, it’s only his second race. It’s a tough ask to come out there and do that and he’s done it.

“Colin said he loved the ground, which is a help. He’s a lovely horse – we knew that the first day – and we would have been disappointed today if he had been beaten.”

Beauty Inspire was cut to 33-1 from 50-1 for the 2000 Guineas with Betfair and Paddy Power.

Major Power and Danny Sheehy on the way to winning the Paddy Power Scurry Handicap
Major Power and Danny Sheehy on the way to winning the Paddy Power Scurry Handicap (Brian Lawless/PA)

Major Power was a shock 50-1 winner of the Paddy Power Scurry Handicap.

Ridden by 3lb claimer Danny Sheehy, the Edward Lynam-trained grey held the late challenge of Hightimeyouwon by a head to land the €59,000 first prize.

“I heard they were all backing the other horse, Rough Diamond. He ran OK but probably wouldn’t be battle hardened,” said Lynam.

“It’s nice to get and I’m delighted. If he could turn out as good as the one that won it last year (Romantic Proposal) we’d be doing all right, but that might be a bit hopeful.

“I’m delighted to win with him. He was a good horse for the Friday nights at Dundalk.

“I’ve been moaning to Garry O’Gorman (handicapper) that he’s too high on the turf, so I’d say his turf rating will go back up to the same as his all-weather rating.”

Georgie Benson steered Elite Trooper Grey (14-1) to victory in the Kildare Village Ladies Derby Handicap.

The five-year-old, trained by Denise Foster, had not run on the Flat for 645 days but had a spin over hurdles just 16 days earlier.

She emerged late on the scene to beat Crassus by a length and a quarter, with Drayton Cross three and a quarter lengths away in third.

Georgie Benson gave Elite Trooper Grey a fine ride
Georgie Benson gave Elite Trooper Grey a fine ride (Brian Lawless/PA)

“He loved that good ground, the uphill finish and the sun on his back,” said Foster.

“She gave him a great ride. She held on to him and when she brought him a little bit wide he just went ‘oh, I’m gone’. It was a very good ride.

“She was so composed. She’s ridden in point-to-points and rides out in Cullentra a lot. She’d be one of the good work riders and schools over fences as well. She’s a very accomplished rider. That was great to see her do that.”

Foster added: “He’s a lovely horse and there should be something for him in Galway. It’s lovely to have a dual-purpose horse like that who can do both.

“He’s a quality horse and he enjoyed that. Getting his head in front will make him feel good about himself.”

Dinard Rose (4-1) gave trainer Nina Walsh her first success on the Flat when regaining the lead close home in the Aquaturf Handicap.

Ever Present looked like taking her 100 per cent record to three when heading Dinard Rose in the final furlong – but the latter rallied in game fashion for 3lb claimer Andrew Slattery to get the verdict by half a length.

Dinard Rose gets the better of Ever Present at the Curragh
Dinard Rose gets the better of Ever Present at the Curragh (Brian Lawless/PA)

Walsh said: “I’m delighted, that’s brilliant. This is where I had my first winner as a jockey and it’s nice to have my first winner on the Flat here.

“I’m delighted she’s come back to form and delighted to have her back.

“I basically just have her to run. I had a point-to-pointer that I didn’t sell as a store, but he won in the spring so I only have her.

“I’m delighted to trick around with her and she’s a great lead for the young horses. She’s a great yardstick.

“Noel (Meade) did a brilliant job with her. I’ve moved back up home and that’s why I took her as I had time to do my own thing with her, and I had my licence.

“I said I might as well take her back and I’m delighted I did as I get a bit of fun out of her. She’s been running consistently.”

Walsh trained the winner of a steeplechase, Blaze of Fire, at Killarney eight years ago under her maiden name of Nina Carberry.

Sacred Bridge takes Tipperary triumph

Sacred Bridge maintained her unbeaten record with a clear-cut victory in a dramatic race for the Coolmore Ten Sovereigns Tipperary Stakes at Tipperary.

Successful on her debut at Naas just seven days earlier, the Ger Lyons-trained filly took the step up to Listed company in her stride.

Harmony Rose and Keith Dalgleish’s UK challenger Misty Ayr set the pace with Sacred Bridge on their heels.

The race had a wide-open look until Sacred Bridge (evens favourite) quickened into the lead inside the final furlong under Colin Keane.

The daughter of Bated Breath, wearing the Juddmonte colours, put the race to bed to score by a length and a quarter from Misty Ayr. Harmony Rose was a length and a half further away in third.

Shane Lyons, assistant to his brother, said: “We’re very happy with that. She had a win last week and there was an early closing race in the Eyrefield Stakes on Saturday and she would have been in that but we don’t like putting them in until they win their maiden, that’s the policy.

“We have obviously done very little with her and she actually put weight on since and was giving us all the signs she wanted to go back.

“She did that very genuinely and Colin was again sympathetic with her. It was important she got black-type and Colin loves her temperament. She’ll mix and match it between five and six (furlongs) and take baby steps and go back to the team now and set out a plan. She has an exciting future.

“This filly is smaller than (former stablemate) Viadera, but has the same temperament and oozes with class.”

There was a nasty incident before the winning line when the Aidan O’Brien-trained Amalfi Coast suffered a fatal injury.

Jockey Wayne Lordan was thrown clear and was quickly up on his feet. He was checked over by the racecourse medical staff.

On Amalfi Coast, Lyons added: “I’d also like to give our sympathies to Aidan and the team as that is a horrible thing to happen and it has put a bit of a dampener on it.”

Amhran Na Bhfiann back to winning ways in Curragh Cup

Last year’s Derby third Amhran Na Bhfiann made every yard of the running in the Comer Group International Curragh Cup.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien, he was prevented from building on his huge effort at Epsom when picking up an injury on his next outing back in maiden company.

Reappearing at Dundalk in April he was a 13-length winner, but was a beaten favourite in the Saval Beg Stakes before running in the Gold Cup at Ascot.

He failed to see out the extended trip there, but back down at a mile and three-quarters he looked a smart performer.

Ridden by Colin Keane with Ryan Moore on stablemate Passion, the 9-2 chance built up a huge early advantage before being given a breather with three furlongs to run.

Pondus closed to within about five lengths, but Keane kicked on again and the giant Galileo colt – a full-brother to Oaks winner Was – bounded away again to win by seven lengths at 9-2.

O’Brien said: “I’m delighted with him, he’s coming forward and I’d say that’s his trip. Two-and-a-half was just a bit too long for him,” said O’Brien.

“He’s a good honest horse with a little bit of class and he keeps galloping. Colin gave him a great ride as well.

“I think he could come back here for the Irish Leger and I’d say he’ll come forward. Those big colts take a bit of getting ready when they’ve had time off, and he was off a long time.”