Ger Lyons says that when Prince Khalid Abdullah’s global Juddmonte racing and breeding operation started to support his burgeoning County Meath stables it was “honestly, the proudest moment of my career”.
Like many others, Lyons, 54, grew up in awe of the consistently prolific top-level success of the green, pink and white-coloured silks, from 1980s stars Rainbow Quest and Dancing Brave onwards.
And, as Irish 2000 Guineas winner Siskin puts his unbeaten record on the line in Goodwood’s Qatar Sussex Stakes, Juddmonte managers are doubtless reflecting that in adding Lyons to their lengthy roster of trainers they seem to have made a good call.
The lofty positions held by the racecourses at Ascot, Epsom, Newbury and Newmarket in the racing life of the Queen are regularly well documented. In contrast, the significance of leafy Fontwell Park, the partially figure-of-eight jumps track nestling beside the main Chichester-to-Worthing road in West Sussex, is spoken of less often. But it was here that Her Majesty tasted the first of her 1,011 (and counting) British successes.
The year was 1949, and the horse Monaveen. He was owned in partnership with her mother, Queen Elizabeth, and prepared by Peter Cazalet, subsequently the Queen Mother’s principal trainer, at Fairlawne in Kent. With Princess Elizabeth present to watch, jockey Tony Grantham rode the eight-year-old to victory against two opponents. One of whom was trained by “Towser” Gosden, father of John, in the Chichester Handicap Chase.
You should always expect the unexpected in sport, even when the miracles of 2019 are staring you down.
Gunner B, Le Moss, Ardross, Bosra Sham... Henry Cecil sent out so many stars to deliver equine excellence at Royal Ascot. However, it’s hard to believe there can have been a performance at racing’s most prestigious meeting that gave him more satisfaction than Frankel’s astonishing victory in the 2012 Queen Anne Stakes.