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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.”

Maker Of Kings is a class apart in Concorde Stakes

Maker Of Kings stamped his class on the Coolmore U S Navy Flag Concorde Stakes at Tipperary.

Trained by Ger Lyons, the four-year-old looked the one to beat in the Group Three event – and so it proved, with Colin Keane’s mount running out a five-and-a-half-length winner.

Last time out Maker Of Kings had gone close in the Boomerang Mile at Leopardstown on Champions Weekend, finishing fifth but being beaten little more than a length by Real Appeal.

Keane was happy to track Johnny Murtagh’s Carrytheone into the straight – but once the field levelled out, there was only ever going to be one winner.

Maker Of Kings, despite conceding 3lb and more to his rivals, shot clear to win impressively – with Carrytheone staying on for second.

Shane Lyons, the winner’s assistant trainer, said: “He is very effective on that ground and has been a superstar for us all season since the (Irish) Lincoln (finished second) and ran really well at Leopardstown last time on ground which was quick for him.

“This is his ground – and as Colin says, he is probably better than a Group Three horse on this ground.

“First and foremost, we’ll be speaking to his owner and making a plan – but it’ll all be about next year, because this lad is only improving with age.”

Sacred Bridge out to shine on Pearl anniversary

It is 10 years since Lightening Pearl provided Ger Lyons with his first Group One victory in the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes – and he has a strong chance of repeating the dose with Sacred Bridge.

The unbeaten filly is owned by the sponsors, and Lyons credits the late Khalid Abdullah with raising the quality in his yard in recent seasons, seeing it as a great compliment that he is now on their roster.

Having won the Irish Guineas for the team with Siskin last year, Lyons is holding on to the dream that Sacred Bridge may be another Classic contender, but first his sights are set on Saturday at Newmarket.

“I suppose they’d be similar, but Sacred Bridge would be more precocious, because I never had Lightening Pearl as a Cheveley Park horse,” he said.

“I had her as a miler – but the more we ran her, the faster she got.

“This filly has always just rocked up. I never went to the races cocky that she’d win. I thought she’d run well in her maiden but improve for the run. But the only time I got a ‘wow’ off her was the last day.

“The Ballyhane (sales race at Naas) was a good, tough performance, but was that a Group One performance? No. I kept expecting something to beat her but after the last day, I felt she deserved her place at the top table.

“I think the secret to her is fast ground, and the way she did it in the Round Tower was visually spectacular. Anything she had done before that, while I’m not knocking it, wasn’t.”

Should Sacred Bridge win, however, Lyons is unlikely to be involved directly in any of the celebrations because he believes he is of more use at home.

Ger Lyons is enjoying a great run of form
Ger Lyons is enjoying a great run of form (PA Wire)

“I don’t like going racing because I get more done at home,” he added.

“When you are there you are pulled this way and that, and I actually missed all the photographs (when Lightening Pearl won) afterwards. I just find it a lot of wasted time.

“At home with lots of runners, your mind is kept busy – but over there, your whole day is wasted on one run. It’s nice when they win, though.”

It took Lyons longer than expected to make the breakthrough at the top table, but he is well and truly there now, with Even So landing the Irish Oaks last year to add to Siskin’s Guineas.

He said: “In my head I was always going to be training Group One winners, and I couldn’t understand why it was taking so long. Then when it happened, I was telling myself not to get carried away because it took me long enough!

Lightening Pearl (yellow) winnign the Cheveley Park 10 years ago
Lightening Pearl (yellow) winning the Cheveley Park 10 years ago (Sean Dempsey/PA)

“This is why we do it. The Cheveley Park has been good to me, and I’d like to do it again. Group One horses are few and far between, so when you get one you cherish them.”

While all Sacred Bridge’s wins to date have been over five or six furlongs, Lyons hopes she could get further next season.

“I trained her sister Viadera, who is doing well in America, and this filly is bred to get a mile,” he said.

“She doesn’t show you this (speed) at home, she just goes through the motions. I’d like to think she’ll get the mile.

“The other theory is that when they are showing you this over six furlongs, why change it? We’ll change it when we need to, and we’ll know more on Saturday. She’ll hold entries in the Guineas but she’ll also be in the Commonwealth (Cup at Royal Ascot).

“I don’t know that she’ll get the mile. But I think she will and (jockey) Colin (Keane) is not negative either. Her attitude will help her get the trip – it’s a lovely, high-class problem to have.”

Ger Lyons with Siskin after winning the Irish 2,000 Guineas
Ger Lyons with Siskin after winning the Irish 2,000 Guineas (PA Wire)

The fact Lyons is producing Group One runners for Juddmonte is also giving him a huge sense of satisfaction.

“I can’t overstate what the connection with an outfit like that has on my business. It’s a huge pat on the back for Glenburnie (his County Meath yard) that they entrust us with their horses,” he said.

“When they send them they literally could be anything. It’s like waking up on Christmas morning when you are very young.

“Yes, you get ordinary horses too, but you also get horses like yesterday (Straight Answer) or Sacred Bridge and you have a chance with what you get to compete at the top table.

“I take it as a huge compliment, and it’s something I’m very proud of.”

Lyons will also be represented in Saturday’s Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes by Dr Zempf, who already has a Group One second to his name in the Phoenix Stakes.

“Dr Zempf is a lovely colt and he’s definitely our Guineas horse,” he said.

“I would much rather be going seven furlongs with him, but we’re erring on the side of weakness at the moment.

“Colin has always said to stick to six furlongs for the minute. I think it’s the six which has been getting him beat up to now. Colin did say he’d reverse the Railway (Stakes) form (with Go Bears Go), and he was right, (but) then we bumped into one in the Phoenix (Ebro River) which is grand.

“He’s still in the Dewhurst, and I would have loved to have gone National Stakes/Dewhurst, but Colin thinks he’s still on the weak side. I can’t wait for next year to step him up to seven.

“I know the two horses I’m sending are in the right races and will be competitive. Whether they are going to be good enough, they might not be on Saturday but they will be one day. They are two nice horses.”

Lyons predicting bright future for Straight Answer

Ger Lyons is optimistic about Straight Answer’s future prospects after the Kodiac colt’s domination of the Listed Ballyhane Blenheim Stakes.

Straight Answer, a winning Juddmonte debutant at the Curragh last month, stuck to the same six-furlong trip at Fairyhouse and led throughout to win by almost six lengths on Monday.

His trainer has indicated the likelihood is that he will wait until next year for a third career start – with Classic or top-level sprinting aspirations evident on the basis of an unblemished juvenile record to date.

“Straight Answer is as fine a Kodiac as I have ever seen,” said Lyons, who already senses a move up in trip may eventually be in order.

“Of all the nice ones (two-year-olds in the County Meath yard), Dr Zempf and Beauty Inspire, I wouldn’t have had any of them as rip-roaring six-furlong horses.

“But you start them short, and they are doing their job, and I was very impressed with him – he bounced off the top of the ground, and I loved his attitude.

“He’s a horse to think warmly of over the winter. I thought he was going to be a seven-furlong/mile horse.”

Either way, Straight Answer is a name which can be expected to figure prominently in many of the bookmakers’ 2022 ante-post lists.

“The big races close early, so he’ll be in them,” added Lyons.

“Whether he’s finished for the year hasn’t been discussed yet – but I’d say that could be it, unless we think of something else.

“He’s a different model to Dr Zempf, who is slight, while this lad is robust.

“That could have caused a problem on good ground (at Fairyhouse), but he loved it. What an addition to the team he is.

“The minute he won his maiden we said we’d go to the Blenheim – and he delivered in spades.”

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.”

Breeders’ Cup on radar for Ger Lyons’ ‘wow’ filly Sacred Bridge

Sacred Bridge is set to tackle Group One engagements following her brilliant performance at the Curragh last week – potentially including the Breeders’ Cup.

The Ger Lyons-trained filly – who carries the famous Juddmonte silks of the late Khalid Abdullah – took her unbeaten record to four when rocketing clear in the Round Tower Stakes.

A natural progression would be the Juddmonte-sponsored Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket on September 25.

Lyons – who celebrated his 1,000th career winner at Roscommon on Monday evening – told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast: “The little filly gave me a ‘wow’ feeling on Friday – it was her fourth win, but I didn’t get a ‘wow’ off her until Friday. That was a ‘wow’ performance.

“She literally goes through the motions at home and does what she’s done. Every time I’ve gone to the races I’ve kept thinking ‘is she up to this?’, and every time she’s produced.

“I love training two-year-olds, and it’s for that reason – you don’t know what you’re uncovering. It’s when they hit the ceiling you go on to the next one, but she’s still on the rise.

Sacred Bridge has an exciting future
Sacred Bridge has an exciting future (PA)

“Subject to us talking to the (Abdullah) family and everybody being on the same page, that’s (Cheveley Park) where you would go with her.”

Should all go well at Newmarket next month, then an exciting trip to America and Del Mar could be on the agenda, for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Lyons added: “There’s a lot of options open with her, including a trip to the States at the end of the year

” If she stays in this form why not, that would have to come into the conversation that we’ll be having close to the time.”

Ger Lyons records landmark 1,000th winner at Roscommon

Ger Lyons reached a landmark 1,000 career winners as Offiah struck at Roscommon on Monday.

Lyons sent out his first winner at Navan in October 1994, and Royal Ascot success came in 2007 through Elletelle in the Queen Mary, ridden by Johnny Murtagh. It was also Murtagh in the saddle when Lightening Pearl won the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket in 2011.

The County Meath trainer last year enjoyed his first two Classic victories, courtesy of Siskin in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and Even So in the Irish Oaks – both ridden Colin Keane, with whom he has forged a formidable partnership.

Fittingly it was champion jockey Keane – who reached the fastest century of winners ever for a rider in Ireland at the weekend – doing the steering aboard 5-1 chance Offiah in the Class Grass Handicap, coming home three and a quarter lengths clear of favourite Big Baby Bull.

Shane Lyons is assistant to his brother at Glenburnie Stables and said: “Ger is so dedicated. He just loves animals and that shines through with certain horses, especially this lad. He just gets into their heads and fills them with loads of confidence.

“In our yard they are happy horses. Happy staff make happy horses and vica versa.

“He doesn’t copy what other trainers do – he thinks outside the box. Sometimes you think ‘this lad is losing it’, but all of a sudden you realise none of us would have thought of that with certain genius things that he does.

“It’s been a great ride and it will be a long ride for the next 1,000, but hopefully we are still there for it!”

Colin Keane celebrates Irish 2,000 Guineas glory with Siskin
Colin Keane celebrates Irish 2,000 Guineas glory with Siskin (PA)

He added: “We’re delighted to get it in Roscommon as well as it’s a very lucky track for us. Michael Finneran and his crew are very good to us and have great facilities which they are always upgrading.

“It’s a front-runner’s track, but Colin was very good on this horse. He nicks lengths on bends and is riding with so much confidence.

“The horse was threatening to do that for a long time and it’s great for Sean Jones and David Spratt to be part of this historic winner.”

Corviglia impressed in victory at Roscommon
Corviglia impressed in victory at Roscommon (PA)

Elsewhere on the card, Corviglia could have booked her place on Irish Champions Weekend in comfortably landing a second career success.

The Listed Ingabelle Stakes over seven furlongs at Leopardstown on September 11 is a potential target, after the daughter of Karakontie dispensed with the opposition in the Irish EBF Median Sires Series Race.

Making all the running, the Jessica Harrington-trained filly stayed on strongly to beat Gwan So by four lengths, with Tuwaiq three and a half lengths away in third, following up her win at Leopardstown last month.

Kate Harrington, assistant to her mother, said: “Her form has worked out with the filly that was second to her (Limiti Di Greccio) winning next time at Leopardstown.

“Her work at home has come forward and mum will have a chat with Alan (Cooper, racing manager for the Niarchos family) and the team to see where they want to go next.

“I’d imagine the Listed Ingabelle Stakes at Leopardstown on Champions Weekend could be next for her.”

She added: “She’s from a lovely family and the dam is a sister to the Oaks winner Light Shift.”

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.”

Cairde Go Deo runs out stylish winner at the Curragh

Cairde Go Deo stepped up on a promising debut run to claim an impressive victory in the Loder Irish EBF Fillies’ Race at the Curragh.

The daughter of Camelot finished second on her racecourse bow for Ger Lyons at Leopardstown last month and plenty clearly fancied her chances of improving on that as she was sent off the 8-13 favourite under Colin Keane.

She was travelling noticeably well at the top of the straight and Keane took the decision to launch her challenge down the middle of the track, where she pulled four and a half lengths clear of a promising newcomer in History – a 2.8million guinea purchase as a yearling in October.

Despite the manner of her success, connections will take a patient approach with no big-race entries at this stage.

Shane Lyons, assistant to his brother, said: “Obviously she had experience over a lot of her rivals, but Ger doesn’t want to over-race her this year. It’s all about next year and she has been telling us that she is crying out for a run.

“She got away with that ground. She obviously wants further, but definitely wants next year. We won’t be rushing her back and that’s why she has no early-closing races.

“If she tells us, we will supplement her for the autumn. She will run again, but it’s all about next year and we’ll let her grow into herself.

“From the word go she’s telling us she’s sharper, being what she’s by, than what she’s meant to be.”

Cowboy Justice (2-1 favourite) made virtually all for a narrow success in the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.

Plenty of attention was focused on Bluegrass, another newcomer for Aidan O’Brien with a sterling pedigree as a son of Galileo out of top sprinter Quiet Reflection, but he was slow to start and never able to get in a serious blow.

In contrast, Cowboy Justice bowled along in front for Shane Foley and while the well-backed Swan Bay made a late dash for glory, Jessica Harrington’s charge held on by a neck at the line.

Cowboy Justice won the opener at the Curragh
Cowboy Justice won the opener at the Curragh(Niall Carson/PA)

Harrington said: “I’m delighted with that. Shane said he was just getting a bit lonely out in front.

“Shane said he’s still pretty immature and will improve again from that. He’s a nice horse and we’ll probably be staying at seven furlongs for the moment.

“We could look at something like the Futurity.”

My Holy Fox (left) completed a double for Harrington and Keane
My Holy Fox (left) completed a double for Harrington and Foley (Niall Carson/PA)

Harrington and Keane made it a double with My Holy Fox (17-2) in the DMG Media Fillies Maiden.

Out of luck in two previous outings, My Holy Fox took a huge leap forwards with a three-quarter-length verdict over Punhakha.

Harrington said: “At Gowran she was very raw and green, but she ran on well in the end.

“I wasn’t sure if we were going the right distance today as I thought she needed a mile and it looked like that halfway through the race. Suddenly she quickened up and she won.

“She’s a beautifully-bred filly and has won a Curragh maiden now. Some black type would be nice and she probably needs to get her toe in. Things fell right for her today.”

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.

Sacred Bridge out to bag Naas pot

Sacred Bridge puts her unbeaten record on the line in the €300,000 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.

A tilt at Group-race company beckons soon, but Lyons could not resist the opportunity to have a shot at Monday’s huge prize.

He said: “She’s in good form. It would be a nice next step for her, and then we can go back to the Stakes races.

“The prize-money is so good it makes sense to go this route first.”

Archie Watson’s Dusky Prince is one of five British challengers in a 24-strong field.

Since winning on his Brighton introduction, the Prince Of Lir colt has failed to land a telling blow in either the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom or the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot.

“Dusky Prince is a very solid colt,” said Watson.

“He won nicely at Brighton on his debut, and things just didn’t go his way since. He missed the break in the Woodcote, and it was horrible ground that day, and then things just happened too quick for him at Royal Ascot back over five furlongs in the Windsor Castle.

“The step back up in trip on Monday will be a help, and this was a race we were keen to support – and with Dusky Prince being by Prince Of Lir and the bonus for a winner by Prince Of Lir, it was certainly worth having a crack at.”

Dusky Prince is joined on the trip across by the Irish Sea by the Richard Hannon-trained Bosh, who is on a hat-trick following wins at York and Newbury.

Kevin Ryan saddles both Aleezdancer and Smullen, while Tom Dascombe has declared Ever Given – who was an impressive winner of a nursery at Goodwood on Friday.

Jessica Harrington is looking forward to running Albion Square, Bellabel and Tut Tut.

She said: “Albion Square was an impressive winner of his maiden at Navan and has run in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Group Two Railway Stakes since, so this is a good opportunity. He’s got all the experience, so I hope he will run a big race.

“Tut Tut’s form has worked out very well. The only little concern might be the ground for her, because it was soft when she was second in Fairyhouse, but she is in good order.

“You can discard Bellabel’s last run. She ran well below par that day, but if she can reproduce her first run I would hope she could run into a place and pick up a bit of prize money.”

Ballyhane bid in Lyons’ sights for Sacred Bridge

Ger Lyons is eyeing the valuable €300,000 Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes at Naas on Monday for his unbeaten filly Sacred Bridge.

Winner of both her starts to date, the Juddmonte-owned juvenile has created a good impression so far this season.

While Lyons is fearful of soft ground derailing his plans, the current good to firm ground is offering him hope.

“At the minute Sacred Bridge is scheduled to run,” said Lyons.

“She wouldn’t run on soft or heavy, but on summer ground she’ll run.

“She’s in good form. It would be a nice next step for her and then we can go back to the stakes races, but the prize money is so good it makes sense to go that route first.”

Lyons could also run course and distance winner Recurrent Dream while Jarvis would also run if making the cut.

“Recurrent Dream is by Elzaam, and so is eligible for the €50,000 Joe Foley is putting up if the winner is by a Ballyhane Stud stallion. He has won at Naas already and all things being equal will take his chance,” said Lyons.

“Jarvis is still in it also. He was second last time out at the Curragh. He’s probably too honest.

“I don’t think he’s a sprinter, in time he will want further but he won’t get seven furlongs by jumping and running the way he’s running. Hopefully he might get into the consolation nursery.

“It’s good money so we’re trying to support the race the best we can.”

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.”