Sacred Bridge set to take Curragh course towards shot at Group One glory

Trainer Ger Lyons Lyons keeping his options open for Cairde Go Deo

With a big money prize already under her belt the unbeaten Sacred Bridge could tee herself up for a shot at Group One glory at the Curragh on Friday evening.

Trainer Ger Lyons plans to run the exciting juvenile filly in the Group Three Heider Round Tower Stakes at HQ as a possible springboard towards next month's Cheveley Park Stakes in Newmarket.

Earlier this month Sacred Bridge stretched her unbeaten record to three with a narrow victory in the lucrative €300,000 Ballyhane Stakes at Naas.

The €150,000 first prize for the restricted contest helped boost Lyons to third place in the trainers' championship with over €1.2 in prizemoney, putting only Aidan and Joseph O'Brien in front of him.


It is an impressive haul considering Lyons hasn’t enjoyed top-flight success so far this season, unlike 2020 when both Siskin and Even So supplied domestic Classic glory.

However, he hopes there is enough quality among his two-year-old team to put that right going into the vital autumn campaign.

Sacred Bridge and last month’s Navan maiden winner Geocentric figure among 15 Round Tower entries left in at Monday’s acceptance stage.

Lyons has also kept open the option of sending his impressive maiden winner Cairde Go Deo back to the Curragh for Friday’s Manguard Flame Of Tara Stakes over a mile.

However, he is also pondering taking a significantly different tack with her.

Cairde Go Deo routed her maiden opposition earlier this month to the tune of four and a half lengths after being well supported in the market.

“I’d say I’ll end up supplementing her for the Moyglare. I’ve always thought of her as a Group One filly. Just because she’s by Camelot, and I trained the dam, I wanted to give her time.

“She’s been telling me all year to run her and I kept saying ‘No you’re a Camelot.’ And when I did run her she did that.

“If I go this mile route [on Friday] I’d have to go the Newmarket Fillies’ Mile route later on. But with what I’ve seen I wouldn’t be afraid to supplement her for the Moyglare [September 12th] and skip Friday. It would also give us an extra few weeks,” Lyons said.

In comparison the trainer appears less sure of Sacred Bridge’s ultimate top-flight credentials.

“You can’t knock what she’s done but is she a Cheveley Park horse? I don’t know. But if she keeps winning we might have to find out. She’s going to get beat at some stage but she’s stepping up all the time,” commented Lyons.

He has no regrets about skipping last week’s Lowther where Andrew Balding’s highly-rated Sandrine surprisingly lost her unbeaten record to Zain Claudette.

“Her rating suggests she’s shy of Andrew’s horse that was beaten in the Lowther. I felt she’d have to improve 7lbs to get level with her. She hasn’t got an official rating but she’s ran to about 100. Sandrine was 109 guaranteed, so the logical thing was to go to the Round Tower.

“If you’re lucky enough to win the Round Tower you’ve a free pass into the Cheveley Park. That’s the logic. But I still think she has to improve to be a Group One horse. Off 100, you’re a stone off that.

“But she’s a lovely honest filly and if she happened to win a Round Tower and she could finish in the three in a Cheveley Park it’s a great year for her,” he said.

The colt Dr Zempf found only Ebro River too good in the recent Phoenix Stakes and along with the Anglesey winner Beauty Inspire is another in a strong-looking juvenile team for Lyons’s Glenburnie team.

“Dr Zempf is a work in progress. He went to the Phoenix as a second thought. I was training the Mehmas [Beauty Inspire] for that but he got a bang and I had to wait.

“I was always training Zempf with the Dewhust in mind, stepping up to the Futurity and going on to the National. But then I looked at the Phoenix and said we’d swing him in there.

“We said he would turn the Railway Stakes form around but we didn’t see the winner beating us. There’s huge improvement in Zempf and he could be a Guineas horse. He has a temperament for going further,” Lyons added.

Friday's Curragh card also includes the €80,000 Paddy Power Irish Cambridgeshire, where the sponsors have installed Joseph O'Brien's Toshizou as an initial 6-1 favourite.

Toshizou didn’t enjoy a clear run when a well-backed favourite behind No More Porter at the Curragh earlier this month.

Last year’s winner Laughifuwant also figured among Monday’s acceptors but won’t get similar heavy ground conditions this time.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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