Even So lands Irish Oaks for Ger Lyons at the Curragh

Trainer confirms his status as a major new figure at elite level with this latest victory

Ger Lyons equalised 2-2 with Aidan O'Brien in this year's unique Curragh classic programme when Even So landed Saturday evening's Juddmonte Irish Oaks.

Having finally broken their classic duck with Siskin in last month's Irish 2,000 Guineas, both Lyons and jockey Colin Keane wasted little time doubling up.

The 10-1 winner, carrying Coolmore’s pink ‘second’ colours, stepped up to the Group One plate in style, pouncing on the 2-1 favourite Cayenne Pepper to win by two lengths.

With O’Brien having landed the 1,000 Guineas here with Peaceful, and the Derby with Santiago, Lyons confirmed his status as a major new figure at elite level with this latest victory.

Even So was the very first horse sent to the Co Meath trainer by Coolmore and has yielded an immediate and rare dividend.

If Siskin was surrounded by expectation, and Lyons even admitted to finding it hard to breathe during that eventful Guineas, the trainer had little trouble enjoying this second classic, partly because he feared Even So might not be quite good enough.

However in the absence of the outstanding Epsom Oaks winner Love, and once again no overseas raiders tempted to the Curragh, an opportunity presented itself which was gleefully snapped up by Keane.

No sooner had Cayenne Pepper taken over from the pace-setting Snow than Even So swept past for another popular victory.

"It was very straightforward. I got a lovely pitch behind Shane Foley and I couldn't believe how well my filly was going between the two and the one pole. She stretched all the way to the line," the former champion jockey reported.

In the unprecedented circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, and racing behind closed doors, Lyons confessed to not having met the Coolmore supremo John Magnier in some years.

He also said he hadn’t made plans beyond this race although with a new classic winner in their possession a rare phone-call might be in the offing from the world’s most successful thoroughbred operation.

“There’s no pressure from the owners. I don’t get phone calls. That’s their colours and that’s the nearest I come to them. They’re completely straightforward to work for. They’ve picked us for a reason and let us do our job which makes life so much easier, just like Juddmonte,” Lyons said.

Classic wins for such ownerships are only likely to see even more regally bred material entering Lyons’s yard in future.

“It’s a pleasure when you get pedigrees like this one,” he said.

“I love the Camelot fillies and I liked her from the very get-go. Did I think she was an Oaks filly, no, I didn’t but when she won the trial (at Naas) she earned the right to run.

“This was much more enjoyable to watch than Siskin’s win in the Guineas. It’s strange with no people here but I’ll take it. I didn’t take my eyes off her up the straight but I was never in doubt at any stage,” Lyons added.

Even So is a rare classic winner owned by Coolmore that isn’t trained by Aidan O’Brien whose Passion did best of his four runners in third. In fact it was a rare Curragh classic meeting where the champion trainer failed to saddle a winner.

“It’s just fantastic and it’s good that these owners are now with me, with a good trainer for a change!” Lyons joked. “They were spoiling Aidan, this thing is easy when you get this type of horse. I was saying how great Aidan is but when you get the horses it’s easy!”

Locally based trainer Ken Condon tasted Curragh classic success of his own two years ago with Romanised's 2,000 Guineas and enjoyed another vintage day at HQ with a Group Two double.

Romanised maintained his stable star status with a successful defence of his Paddy Power Minstrel Stakes title but the two year old Laws Of Indices multiplied that with a shock 66-1 win in the Gain Railway Stakes.

Chris Hayes guided the €8,000 son of Power, previously a narrow Navan maiden winner, to a decisive victory over the 3-1 shot Lucky Vega.

“The price looks an insult now but I suppose he just fell in, in an auction maiden at Navan getting all the allowances,” said Condon.

“Fair play to the owners, he was a horse that we liked. He ran early on in Naas and he’s obviously made improvement as he’s gone along.

“Certainly he’s made a huge step forward. I would have been delighted with a place.

“He travelled through the race quite well and he’s a horse that had shown us at home that he wants seven and they needed to stay today as it’s slow ground.

“He got to the line well and galloped through it. To be honest I didn’t see a win coming today and would have been delighted with a good run. He’s obviously come forward well again.

“He’s entitled to run in all the good races now, he’s well entered up. He’s in the Phoenix and the National Stakes,” he added.

Romanised made light of fears he might not have been forward enough to win on his first start of the season and his Group One quality proved too much for the odds-on favourite Lancaster House.

The five year old entire used last year's Minstrel victory to tee up a memorable success in the Prix Jacques Le Marois and will try to do the same at Deauville next month.

“It’s four weeks so it’s a nice bit of time between now and then for him to take this race and get something from it,” Condon said of his 6-4 winner.

“He wouldn’t be mad about that ground. It’s dead and he wants genuine good ground, just on the fast side is what he needs. Then you can really see his acceleration and turn of foot.

“His penultimate furlong in Deauville that time (2019 Marois) was 10.6 seconds. He has the ability to really quicken.

“I’m sure he’ll take plenty from the race. Billy (Lee) said he had a nice blow and he knows he’s had a race,” he added.

Twilight Payment led home his stable companion Master Of Reality as he repeated his 2019 success in the Curragh Cup.

Declan McDonogh’s mount won impressively by eight lengths having chased the strong pace set by his market rival Memorabilis throughout.

Both the first two are owned by Australian Lloyd Williams and could be sent back for another crack at the Melbourne Cup in November provided the wider public health picture surrounding Covid-19 allows.

“They could (go) but obviously with everything that’s going on it is slightly up in the air. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” said Joseph O’Brien who added that the Irish Leger in September could be a shorter-term target for both.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column