Ger Lyons enjoyed a one-three in the Lodge Park Stud Irish EBF Park Express Stakes at Naas on the opening day of the Irish Flat season, with Lemista taking Group Three honours on the way to what could be even better things.
Stablemate Even So had to settle for third as the odds-on favourite, with Mick Halford’s Hamariyna splitting the pair in second and the front three all looking smart prospects for the future.
Lemista, a winner on heavy ground when last seen at Gowran in October, hit the front over a furlong out under Chris Hayes, who was completing a double on the day, after Even So had made her challenge against the seemingly unfavoured far rail.
Hamariyna tracked Lemista and was initially caught out for speed before staying on strongly down the centre of the track, but was beaten three-quarters of a length by the 8-1 winner.
Lyons’s brother, Shane, said: “We’re very happy with her. We had to throw her into that race with the way the ground is as we know she wants a mile and a half and you need a horse with stamina for that ground.
“Our horses are forward, but without having a run you don’t know how forward they are until they go to the track.
“They are really working well. This filly and Even So were working well at home, so you can’t leave them at home when there is a Pattern race like that.
“We’re delighted, she won her maiden by five lengths so you can’t be bad if that happens.
“Chris said she’d appreciate better ground to be able to use her long stride. Stepping up trip I think she is an exciting filly.
“She could be aimed at the Oaks. We never thought she’d be a Guineas filly, trip-wise. Since February onwards we’ve been very happy and we’re just delighted she’s gone and done it.
“The other filly [Even So] has run a cracker too. She got a little bit tired half a furlong from home and with her being down the inside where the ground is deader it just found her out.
“Better ground and stepping up a couple of furlongs as well she’ll be a nice filly. She is in the Guineas, but I don’t know if she’d be quick enough and both of them could go for Oaks trials.”
Jim Bolger will be hoping Poetic Flare can enjoy just a fraction of the success of his sire Dawn Approach, as he followed in his footsteps by winning the opening race of the season.
Dawn Approach won the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden in 2012 and went on to be crowned champion juvenile, as well as winning the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes in his Classic season.
Poetic Flare was sent off the 2-1 joint-favourite for the five-furlong contest, along with Aidan O’Brien’s Lipizanner – a first runner for the yard from the sire Uncle Mo.
The two pulled clear entering the final furlong, but while Lipizanner looked green when Seamie Heffernan pulled the whip and drifted to his left, Poetic Flare appeared more streetwise.
It was not until the final few strides that Poetic Flare began to get on top for Kevin Manning, but he managed to pull half a length clear with Lipizanner running a very promising race himself.
Bolger won the race three years in succession between 2011 and 2013, and Manning said: “It was dead, tacky ground. He was very straightforward and did that well. I’m very pleased with him.
“He knew his job. He’ll be a bit better when he gets better ground and will appreciate stepping up in trip.
“Overall you’d be very happy with him. He was very professional and did that well.”
O'Brien made sure he did not leave the opening meeting without a winner, as Russian Emperor (2-1 favourite) came from the clouds to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.
“He had a lovely run last year, he’s a fine, big colt,” said Heffernan of the son of Galileo, who holds an entry for the English Derby.
“When he switched out and the penny dropped he won well. Aidan’s could improve an awful lot, not through fitness, but just because they hibernate through the winter.
“He’s a group horse and if he gets a mile and a half he’s top notch.”
The money came for Woodford General before the Naas Nursery Of Champions Maiden and proved spot on as he ran out a ready winner.
Having shown ability of the final of three outings last season, Kieran Cotter’s three-year-old was sent off the 7-2 second-favourite.
From his draw near the rail, Ben Coen ended up towards the centre of the track and when he asked the son of Gutaifan to quicken up he quickly shot seven lengths clear. Getawiggleon beat O'Brien's King Of Malta in a photo for second.
“We always thought this lad had a huge amount of potential, but in a winter maiden you just can’t be sure,” said Cotter.
“He’s definitely stakes material and he’s from a very good family. He loves this ground and he’s incredibly tough.
“He did all that was asked of him today and we’re looking forward to the future.”
Mick Mulvany's In From The Cold (8-1) finished with a rare rattle under Chris Hayes to win the Naas Racecourse Business Club Madrid Handicap.
The three-year-old was picking up where he left off from last season, having won at track in November on his 13th start of a busy first campaign.
Camachita was second with The King Of Kells, a stablemate of the winner, in third.
Mulvany said: “The winner is nicely handicapped and I think he’ll stay a bit further, I’d say that’s what won it on the day.
“Chris said he was under a little bit of pressure most of the way, but he was staying on. Out there it’s no exceptional pace you want but just to stay on.
“If the racing keeps going, on heavy ground, we’ll have to see where we go next with him.”
Fastar (12-1) was an impressive winner of the Naas Racecourse Launches The 2020 Irish Flat Season Handicap for Gerard O'Leary and Shane Foley.
Assistant trainer Adrian Joyce said:- "He worked on Friday up the grass and worked really well with a couple of quick horses.
“The drop back in trip a little bit was a worry but he’s an improving horse, he’s well above average.”