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Surprise at Naas as McDonogh has Sir Dragonet's number

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Numerian, centre, with Declan McDonogh up, on their way to winning the Devoy Stakes at Naas Racecourse in Naas, Co Kildare. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Numerian, centre, with Declan McDonogh up, on their way to winning the Devoy Stakes at Naas Racecourse in Naas, Co Kildare. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Numerian, centre, with Declan McDonogh up, on their way to winning the Devoy Stakes at Naas Racecourse in Naas, Co Kildare. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Aidan O'Brien typically takes time to bring his Ballydoyle contingent to the boil and that was the case on the opening day of the Flat season when Sir Dragonet (8/15 favourite) could only muster second in the Listed Devoy Stakes at Naas yesterday.

Sir Dragonet - last year's Epsom Derby fourth when sent off favourite - was expected to score on his comeback under Seamie Heffernan but Aidan's son Joseph had other ideas with Numerian (15/2) springing a surprise under Declan McDonogh.

Everything appeared to be going to plan for Heffernan as he moved into contention with two furlongs to travel but McDonogh delivered the son of Holy Roman Emperor with an emphatic finish to score in style.

The younger O'Brien was not in attendance at the Kildare track but his representative Brendan Powell is confident that the four-year-old could become the real deal this season.

"You'd think he'll improve in every way from that and hopefully he could turn into a nice Group horse. He looks the finished article this year compared to last year," Powell said.

The elder O'Brien was out of luck in the Group Three Lodge Park Stud Stakes where Chris Hayes completed a double - he landed the earlier handicap aboard Michael Mulvany's In From The Cold (8/1) - when steering Lemista (8/1) to success. Even So (5/6 favourite) was the better fancied of the two Ger Lyons runners but came home third as Hayes guided stablemate Lemista to victory.

"She could be aimed at the Oaks. Since February onwards we've been very happy and we're just delighted she's gone and done it," assistant trainer Shane Lyons said.

Lyons, brother of trainer Ger, was also complimentary of HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh for continuing racing behind closed doors despite the coronavirus pandemic.

"Brian Kavanagh is doing a sterling job also and he's keeping the ball rolling. This is our first day out but we have to compliment the stable staff who are adhering to the rules, at home and at the races," Lyons said.

"If the Government tell us we can't do it, no problem and we'll put our heads down and follow suit, but if everybody plays ball and it keeps going, happy days. People just need to use their heads and common sense."

Jim Bolger scored the first winner of the season with Poetic Flare (2/1 joint-favourite) taking the opening five-furlong maiden under his 53-year-old son-in-law Kevin Manning as he fended off Aidan O'Brien's Lipizanner (2/1 joint-favourite) by half a length.

Kieran Cotter's Woodford General (7/2 having been 15/2 earlier in the day) landed a gamble under Ben Coen to win the six-furlong maiden, while O'Brien got off the mark in the last when Russian Emperor (2/1 favourite) bagged the one-mile maiden.

Irish Independent