Sport Royal Ascot

Sunday 26 February 2017

Lyons 'pedalling into the wind' but Drama an Ascot player

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Trainer Ger Lyons. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Ger Lyons. Photo: Sportsfile

Sourcing Group One milers is a pursuit that tries even Aidan O'Brien at times, so it is a testament to Ger Lyons' acumen that he will head for Royal Ascot on Tuesday with two contenders for the ultimate stallion-making division.

The highly efficient Meath operator will saddle Endless Drama in the Queen Anne Stakes that gets the royal meeting off to a lung-bursting start.

Then Lyons' Psychedelic Funk will go into battle in the Coventry Stakes.

As low as 6/1 second favourite for the Group Two, he is one of just eight horses quoted for next year's Guineas.

However, Endless Drama is the horse whose big-race potential is more immediate. After he chased Gleneagles home in the 2015 Irish 2,000 Guineas, Lyons opted to play the long game.

A big, handsome beast, Endless Drama travelled sumptuously on his Lockinge Stakes return at Newbury last month. At the death, he was one-paced behind race-fit rivals Belardo and Euro Charline, but he emerged with his reputation enhanced.

Belardo, Tepin and Ervedya are ahead of Endless Drama (10/1) in the betting for Tuesday's £600,000 affair that has attracted 17 entries, but Lyons is happy to have the horse that he has.

"He is in great order and came out of it well," he said of Endless Drama's Newbury turn. "If he had the dust blown off him in a prior race there would have been another length in him. Belardo won well, but there was no good in the ground, and Belardo comes into his own on the slower ground.

"Mine improve for a run so with a race under Endless Drama's belt, he should be sharper."

Astute

Third behind Aidan O'Brien and Dermot Weld in terms of winners trained (18) this term, Lyons is one of the most astute handlers in the business, but five have years have passed since Lightening Pearl provided him with a breakthrough Group One success.

The late-maturing Lustrous Light could join his select Ascot team by being supplemented for Friday's King Edward VII Stakes, but good horses are, as he puts it, "Like hens' teeth".

"Just look at the numbers lads are dealing with and then look at the Group One horses that we have in the country," Lyons explains.

"It is a very small percentage. People take it for granted watching Aidan, but, when you look at everybody else's numbers, they are hard to find. If you are not attached to an owner-breeder like Coolmore, they are even harder to find, because you have to buy them.

"The majority have pedigrees and cost a lot of money. We are probably in a better position than a lot of lads, but we are still pedalling into the wind."

"We train 90 horses and to have two or three runners at Ascot, it shows you what you need to go through to find a worthwhile challenger - I'm not going over there just to make up the numbers.

"This year is a building year because we sold a lot of our team last year. We have a lot of two-year-olds. Our policy requires us to trade to survive, so every odd year you are going to be light on the ground in certain departments."

O'Brien's Caravaggio heads the Coventry betting at 3/1, while Ballydoyle's Deauville hero The Gurkha will clash with fellow Guineas winners Awtaad and Galileo Gold in the St James's Palace Stakes on what promises to be an enthralling day's racing.

The Gurkha is a 13/8 favourite for the three-year-olds' mile Group One, with Kevin Prendergast's brilliant Curragh victor 3/1 and Galileo Gold 9/2.

Irish Independent

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