Wednesday 13 December 2017

Lyons could be over the Moon at Ros'

Lyons is one of four trainers with at least 20 winners this season. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Lyons is one of four trainers with at least 20 winners this season. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

With Dermot Weld having made a relatively sluggish start to the season, there is a chance that Ger Lyons will win the only realistic crown open to anyone other than Aidan O'Brien - the title without the legendary trainer.

Lyons is a fan of claiming races, which are relatively rare in Ireland but the norm in the States, and Circling Moon looks interesting in the claiming maiden this evening in Roscommon.

This son of Lope De Vega should cope with ground that has turned testing at the venue. It looks a nice opportunity, though Cul An Ti also has to be respected for the Emmet Mullins barn.

Lyons is one of four trainers with at least 20 winners this season; Jessica Harrington, Jim Bolger and O'Brien the other three. His strike-rate remains excellent and he rarely runs horses for the sake of it, while Colin Keane is one of the top riders in Ireland.

The opening Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Maiden may see Jessica Harrington, who has had an exceptionally good year with jumpers and Flat horses, enjoy another winner.

Painting Pictures, by Roderic O'Connor, is a hopeful choice under Colm O'Donoghue, though Vocal Music sets the standard on form for Jim Bolger, who was among the winners at the weekend.

Tom McCourt has not had a winner since September and the Stamullen trainer could badly do with one.

Stamp Of Authority may end the famine. The son of Invincible Spirit goes well on testing terrain and looks the pick from a reasonable draw in the extended seven-furlong handicap, with Colin Keane booked aboard the top weight.

The 10-furlong handicap is a tricky event, but Byron Beauty, which has the assistance of Pat Smullen, takes the eye. This trip suits her and she is fairly straightforward, with the draw in four making life less complicated for the Co. Offaly rider.

The jumps action commences with a classy enough novice chase.

Townshend, which was a smooth winner over Potters Point at Punchestown last time, should be able to confirm the form despite giving that one 4lb. Ruby Walsh takes the ride on the son of Lord Of England, which jumps fluently.

The main jumping event is the Connacht National Handicap Steeplechase. The French-bred Auvergnat, which justified strong market support in winning at Killarney, seems sufficiently classy to defy a 9lb rise under the excellent Mark Walsh.

Racing concludes with a tricky maiden chase over an extended three miles. Burndown is the choice of Bryan Cooper, but preference is for another Gigginstown runner in Milsean, which is a certainty if anywhere near his best with Keith Donoghue on board.

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