Viking Hoard returns to racing at Roscommon on Tuesday

The horse was infamously ‘nobbled’ in Tramore’s racecourse stable-yard in 2018

Viking Hoard was found to have raced with 100 times the safe limit of the sedative ACP in its system having been doped by an unidentified third party at Tramore in 2018. File photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Viking Hoard was found to have raced with 100 times the safe limit of the sedative ACP in its system having been doped by an unidentified third party at Tramore in 2018. File photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

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Viking Hoard, the horse infamously ‘nobbled’ in Tramore’s racecourse stable-yard in 2018, returns to racing at Roscommon on Tuesday.

The seven year old lines up in a lowly €10,000 claiming hurdle and in the care of trainer Cathal Byrnes.

Byrnes’s father, Charles, was suspended for six months earlier this year on the back of leaving Viking Hoard unsupervised for an unreasonable period before he ran in a hugely controversial race at Tramore in October of 2018.

A high-profile investigation carried out by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board concluded there was no evidence to suggest Byrnes was involved in either the doping of the horse or betting that took place against it winning.

After being pulled up in that Tramore handicap hurdle, Viking Hoard was found to have 100 times the safe limit of the sedative ACP in his system after being doped by an unidentified third party.

At a subsequent appeal lodged by Byrnes against his six month ban, a hearing panel described the trainer’s negligence as inexcusable.

The Irish Jockeys Association said the danger to Viking Hoard and his jockey on that occasion, Kevin Brouder, was such that only good fortune prevented a serious incident.

Viking Hoard ran three more times for Charles Byrnes after the Tramore contest and was subsequently sent to England where he ran five times without success for two different trainers.

In August of last year he was backed from 20-1 to 2-1 favourite for a hurdle at Sedgefield when in the care of Micky Hammond. He was pulled up and hasn’t raced since but is now back on familiar ground at the Byrnes yard in Co. Limerick.

Byrnes’s son, Cathal, had his first runners as a trainer last month. His brother Philip will ride Viking Hoard at Roscommon.

Cathal Byrnes assumed responsibility at the yard from Robbie Burns who had taken over the training of the horses trained there. Byrnes Jnr has saddled three winners in the last three weeks.

Viking Hoard is the winner of three of his 31 career starts and is one of a dozen runners in Tuesday’s opener where War God is top-rated.

Separately, Aidan O’Brien is set to bid for a record sixth Darley July Cup on Saturday with Lope Y Fernandez.

He is one of three Irish trained hopefuls among the 23 entries left in the prestigious sprint at Monday’s acceptance stage.

Joseph O’Brien is examining the option of switching the National Stakes winner Thunder Moon to sprinting after twice failing to fire at the top level over a mile this season.

Curragh based Ken Condon is also keeping his fingers crossed for fast ground conditions at Newmarket for his three year old filly, Miss Amulet.

None of the three Irish entries figure towards the top of the betting which includes last year’s winner Oxted, Starman and Dragon Symbol who lost out in the stewards room at Ascot in the Commonwealth Cup.

As anticipated the Wokingham Handicap winner Rohaan was supplemented into the race on Monday along with the three year old Line Of Departure.

Lope Y Fernandez has big hoof-prints to follow as some of O’Brien’s best sprinters over the years have won the July Cup.

Lope Y Fernandez has yet to record a top level victory. File photograph: Getty Images
Lope Y Fernandez has yet to record a top level victory. File photograph: Getty Images

Although consistent at Group 1 level, including when runner up to Palace Pier in the Queen Anne over a mile last time, Lope Y Fernandez has yet to record a top level victory.

Bookmaker reaction on Monday was to make him a general 20-1 shot to put that right by taking another shot at sprinting.

O’Brien will also have Group 1 ambitions at Newmarket on Friday with both the English and Irish 1,000 Guineas winners, Mother Earth and Empress Josephine, engaged in the Falmouth Stakes.

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