Ger Lyons sticking with ‘quality over quantity’ after Oaks win

Even So’s victory means trainer tied 2-2 with Aidan O’Brien for Curragh classics this year

He’s one of Irish racing’s newest classic winning trainers but Ger Lyons has ruled out any major expansion as a result of his spectacular top-flight success this year.

Even So, the first horse given to Lyons by John Magnier’s Coolmore Stud operation, provided a perfect initial dividend with victory in Saturday’s Juddmonte Irish Oaks.

It came hot on the heels of Siskin’s Irish 2,000 Guineas triumph last month for another of international racing’s biggest owners, Prince Khalid Abdullah.

That means Lyons is tied 2-2 with Aidan O’Brien for Curragh classics in 2020 and the weekend result further underlined the Co Meath-based trainer’s arrival at racing’s elite top table.


Such status may get emphasised even more with Siskin on track for what is shaping up into a potential mile championship contest in next week’s Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

It’s the sort of success that won’t have gone unnoticed by other powerful bloodstock outfits although Lyons is determined to maintain a policy of “quality over quantity” at his Glenburnie stables.

Isolation yard

He said on Sunday: “Juddmonte have 15 horses with me. Coolmore have two now as they’ve a two-year-old with me as well.

“I have 91 horses here – there won’t be 92. That’s as big as I’ll get. I don’t need 150 horses here for my ego.”

Although Lyons has horses either recuperating or preparing to go into training at a nearby premises, and an isolation yard near Kilcock, he is adamant he is at his limit in terms of day-to-day numbers in training.

“The system works. If I train every horse in the yard a winner, I have 90 winners. I don’t want more here because I’m knackered training the ones I have. If you ask me any question about any horse here I can answer you. If I’ve a second yard I can’t,” he added.

Siskin was a 2-1 favourite when overcoming a squad of O’Brien-trained rivals to win the Guineas and Lyons admitted to feeling huge pressure on that occasion.

In contrast he fully enjoyed Even So’s two length defeat of the favourite Cayenne Pepper at the weekend.

Carrying the second pink colours of Magnier’s wife, Sue, Colin Keane always looked in control on the 10-1 winner up the straight.

However the famously outspoken Lyons isn’t anticipating any deluge of new horses from Coolmore as a result.

“They have a private trainer (O’Brien). They have the best in the trainer in the world and the best facilities in the world (at Ballydoyle). They don’t need Ger Lyons or John Gosden or anybody else.

“They did it for whatever reasons, maybe to see what this lunatic up in Meath is like; maybe they heard the rumours and sent one up to see if this guy is as mad as they say he is – I don’t know!

“They’ve got Aidan and Joseph and Donnacha (O’Brien). They don’t need me. But they’re here, yesterday (Saturday) was wonderful, and I’m delighted to have the filly,” he said.

Immediate plans for Even So appear to include a short midsummer break before a Group One autumn target such as the Filly & Mare race on British Champions Day at Ascot.

Siskin could be crowned Europe’s top miler if victorious in the Sussex and the significance of that is likely to see Keane go to Goodwood to partner the colt.

That would mean the jockey having to self-isolate for 14 days on his return to Ireland under current coronavirus public health restrictions.

Worth paying

The chance of Group One success however means Lyons believes that is a price worth paying.

“For me it has always been quality over quantity. When I retire it will be how many Group Ones did he win. That’s the barometer. The ambition is to do the very best with what we have. But ultimately I want as many Group Ones as I can get my hands on.

“After Lightening Pearl won the Cheveley Park (2011) it took nearly 10 years to get the next one. It became very apparent to me that you don’t find these horses. They find you.

“It’s not a question of spending. They’re just not there. Juddmonte came in and gave me a home bred. Coolmore came in and gave me a home bred. That proved my point.

“All I could do was let my results do the speaking and they did which is testament to the structure here, buying our own horses, relying on ourselves, and then ultimately winning over these owners.

“I’m not on my own. Look at Ken Condon yesterday (a Group Two double.) Look at Jessie (Harrington.) There’s an abundance of talent out there.

“We cut each other’s nose off to win but there’s a great camaraderie too.”

On Monday racing returns behind closed doors at Ballinrobe with an eight-race programme on the flat.

Lyons isn’t represented but Aidan O’Brien sends two to the Co Mayo track and both Love Bracelet and Monument Valley can break their maidens there.