Sonaiyla in the mix for Royal Ascot following Ballyogan success

Sonaiyla emerged as a potential Royal Ascot candidate as she gave a spirited performance to take Group Three honours in the Qatar Racing And Equestrian Club Ballyogan Stakes at the Curragh.

Paddy Twomey’s five-year-old battled all the way to the line to register her first Pattern-race success.

However, the race could have been lost at the start where there was a coming together with Loch Lein on leaving the stalls, resulting in winning jockey Ronan Whelan doing remarkably well to stay in the saddle.

Despite having her chances compromised in the early stages of this six-furlong contest, Whelan was able to weave Sonaiyla into contention after Lustown Baba, More Beautiful and Loch Lein had led the front rank.

The race was wide open a furlong out, but it Sonaiyla (13-8 favourite) knuckled down the best to win by half a length from Romantic Proposal. Teresa Mendoza was a length and a half away in third place.

Twomey said: “She’s a great filly, she’s tough and she’s hardy. I think she’s in better form than ever this year.

“She missed the break the last day and did great work in the finish from an unpromising position. I’m delighted she came today and showed what she’s been showing us this spring.

“I’ll have to talk to the owners, but she has won a Group Three now so we will step up in grade.”

Twomey revealed Sonaiyla may go for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

“She’s in the Diamond Jubilee which might not be an outrageous target,” he went on.

“She’s Group One-placed and the Haydock Sprint and the Flying Five are other races to consider. We’ll achieve what we can for the year and I’d say she will be covered next year.

“She’s won on good to firm and she’s won on heavy. I’d say she has great preference for this track and has never been out of the frame here.

“It’s my first Group winner after a lot of places.”