Ger Lyons - a trainer going places at a rate of knots

On the eve of Royal Ascot this year Sheikh Fahad Al Thani’s Qatar Racing did something that was quite extraordinary at Goffs’ London sale.

Ger Lyons - a trainer going places at a rate of knots

One of the horses that came under the hammer on that Monday was the Ger Lyons-

trained Cappella Sansevero, who was then owned by a long standing patron of the stable, Sean Jones.

Cappella Sansevero had won his first three races, shaping as a very decent colt in the making, but, arguably, no more than that.

But Qatar Racing wanted the horse, initially at least to strengthen their hand for the upcoming Royal extravaganza.

Indeed, Capella Sansevero was running the following day, Tuesday, in the second race of the meeting, the Group 2 Coventry Stakes.

And so Qatar struck and proceeded to pay an astonishing £1.3m for him. No one could have predicted he would make telephone numbers and even Lyons and Jones had to have been blown away by what amounted to a masterstroke on their part.

In the Coventry, Cappella Sansevero performed perfectly respectably to finish a length and three parts runner-up behind The Wow Signal.

The bare form, however, went nowhere near justifying the massive outlay and when Cappella Sansevero next appeared, it looked as if Qatar might actually have wasted an awful lot of money.

He turned up 11 days after Ascot in another Group 2, the Railway Stakes, at the Curragh.

Apparently, £1.3m is essentially loose change to the Sheikh, but even he must have wondered what he’d done, as he watched Cappella Sansevero, the 6-4 favourite, struggle home fifth of seven behind Kool Kompany.

As they passed the post that Saturday afternoon, the purchase really shaped as a shocking bit of business.

Lyons, though, has always maintained it was his fault and that he should never have run him back so quickly after Ascot.

Trainers are programmed, at least most of them, to find excuses for beaten horses, but subsequent events have shown there was a lot of truth in what Lyons said.

Cappella Sansevero was afforded a decent break and came back to finish a close third behind Dick Whittington and Kool Kompany in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh.

And the rehabilitation, for the want of a better word, was completed when he landed a Group 3 at the Curragh last Sunday.

Suddenly, that deal struck at Goffs in June might not be anywhere near as mad as it looked at the time.

You’d imagine Qatar Racing is more than happy at this stage and for Lyons it hasn’t half raised his profile.

Make no mistake about it this is a trainer going places and at a rate of knots. He is swimming in a very big pool, against the likes of Aidan O’Brien, Dermot Weld and Jim Bolger.

But he is more than holding his own and, year-on-year, Lyons is closing in on the big league.

As well, he doesn’t bend over backwards to be politically correct and that is most refreshing.

Earlier this season, of course, he appointed 19-year-old Colin Keane, a real talent, as his first jockey.

They are simply a cracking combination and, you suspect, very much represent the future!

Kicking you know what out of off-course bookmakers is great fun, they nearly always deserve it anyway, but there are times when they don’t half get the worst of the deal.

Take the race won by David Wachman’s Mr Rock at Wexford last Saturday. The geniuses at Bet365 thought he should be a 13-8 shot in the morning, but in Ireland 11-8 was best.

Both offers were basically crazy in any case and he should have been odds-on.

Punters were soon out in force to indicate to the layers the folly of their ways.

Then shortly before the race was due off the second favourite, Thunder Zone, came out and, if Mr Rock, won there would be a 30% reduction in profits.

Mr Rock, of course, duly made all to score with any amount in hand and the display was about as predictable as Sunday following Saturday.

He was returned at 4-11, but those who were on at 11-8 were paid out at a little under even-money. There is so much to love about odds-compilers!

Aidan O’Brien’s Ol’ Man River has long been a talking horse and he certainly made a solid start at the Curragh on Sunday, taking an 18-runner maiden.

This was a good effort, when you take into account that he had the very worst of the drawn, widest of all in 18. He got a delightful drive from Joseph O’Brien, who gradually worked him into the one-mile race and then pounced at exactly the right time to win by three parts of a length.

Ol’ Man River is bred to be a champion, being by Montjeu out of the Irish and English 1000 Guineas winner, Finsceal Beo.

Add in the fact he cost €2.85m as a yearling and no wonder Ol’ Man River is going to be the medium of more than the usual attention going forward.

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