Azurite can put a big-race seal on a hugely-profitable week for trainer Ger Lyons and owner Seán Jones by landing today's €100,000 Magners Ulster Derby at Down Royal.
Lyons had to settle for runner-up spot in Tuesday’s Coventry Stakes with Capella Sanservo but considering the former Jones-owned colt, who cost less than €30,000 as a yearling, had been bought by Qatar Racing for £1.3 million (€1.63m) the night before defeat can hardly have had the same sting as usual.
Lyons runs the Qatar-owned Magnolia Beach as topweight in today's three-year-old handicap and the Dundalk winner will have newly-appointed stable jockey Colin Keane aboard, leaving Gary Carroll to maintain his partnership with Azurite.
Carroll got the Azamour gelding up in the last stride to dead-heat with Breathe Easy at the Curragh over 10 furlongs a month ago. Another of today’s rivals, Urban Moon, was third and has won since for which he has been hiked 10lb by the handicapper.
Azurite looked to be still quite green at the Curragh but finished to such effect that today’s extra furlong should suit and fast going will be no problem to him either.
Whether the same can definitely be said about the two cross-channel raiders from Mark Johnston’s yard is unclear.
Both were out of the frame in the same race at Musselburgh recently although Notarised hardly helped his chance by running very wide off a bend.
As well as the two runners he trains, Lyons also has a share in the Andrew Oliver-trained Abby Cadabby who races in the colours of his wife, Lynne. However, Azurite looks to have some scope to improve on his current 89 mark and may be ahead of the handicapper.
It could be a very good afternoon for Lyons overall as the Dundalk winner Relentless Pursuit looks a leading player in a conditions event while another Jones-owned runner, The Ice Meister, may reverse Fairyhouse form with Jack Naylor now that he has a run under his belt.