Lope Y Fernandez aims to make it ‘ninth time lucky’ in bid for first Group One win

Aidan O’Brien’s colt faces major task against favourite Palace Pier in Lockinge Stakes

Colin Keane on board Siskin comes home to win ahead of Seamus Heffernan on board Lope Y Fernandez in The Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh in June 2020. Photograph: Caroline Norris/Inpho

Aidan O'Brien's Lope Y Fernandez will try to make it "ninth time lucky" when he goes in pursuit of a first Group One success in Saturday's Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

The colt who was placed four times at the top level last year, including in the Irish Guineas and at the Breeders' Cup, faces a major task against the hot favourite Palace Pier in Britain's initial Group One of the year for older horses.

Ryan Moore won the Lockinge for O'Brien in 2018 with Rhododendron and teams up with Lope Y Fernandez in the mile highlight before travelling to Naas on Sunday for its "Ascot Trials" programme.

The final five races at Naas will be shown live on RTÉ 2 which has added the fixture to its racing schedule.

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Moore will again partner the exciting two-year-old Contarelli Chapel who made a major impression when making a winning debut over the course the distance of the Group Three Coolmore Sprint Stakes almost three weeks ago.

The Curragh winner Quick Suzy should supply a sturdy test of her Royal Ascot credentials while earlier Cadamosto will be widely expected to follow up his debut victory in Dundalk.

Disqualification

Silver Surfer was runner-up to Cadamosto on that occasion and also subsequently to another promising Ballydoyle runner, King Of Bavaria.

On both occasions though he blew the start. If he doesn’t repeat, then Paddy Harnett’s 7lb claim could prove important.

Magnanimous showed enough speed when runner-up in the Tetrarch last time to suggest a drop in trip for the Lacken Stakes may suit.

In other news, the partner of a Curragh trainer has been given a six-month disqualification for verbal abuse and insulting behaviour towards stewards and officials at a Cork fixture last month.

Details emerged on Friday of how Daniel Dunne, the partner and authorised racecourse representative of trainer Katy Brown, was penalised by a referrals panel chaired by Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds.

The panel heard that Dunne and Brown appeared before the Cork stewards on April 3rd after a complaint by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board vet Nicola O’Connor that she had been verbally abused.

Dunne “lost the head” at what he felt was a failure to withdraw a Brown-trained runner at the start after another horse beside it got upset in the stalls and was subsequently withdrawn.

He left prior to the conclusion of the inquiry and the stewards referred his behaviour on to referrals panel.

In a lengthy ruling, Justice Reynolds concluded that Dunne had shown a complete lack of respect to the IHRB vet in terms of verbal abuse and vile language which caused O’Connor “understandable distress”.

He was also found to have been shown “wholly impermissible and insulting behaviour towards the stewards”.

Dunne was disqualified for six months with the final three months suspended for a period of one year.

Brown was warned that as the licence holder the onus is on her to ensure her authorised representative conducts himself appropriately. She agreed to pay €500 in IHRB costs.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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