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Percy aiming to end Lyons' wait for more Ulster glory

 

By Ron McKnight

The historic Ulster Derby - sponsored by Magners - is the highlight of the Summer Festival at Down Royal. Nine have been declared for the £100,000 showpiece, and given punters a headache with each runner staking a strong claim.

Ger Lyons last won the race in 2004 with Green Lassy and has gone close in recent seasons, being denied in 2014 by Wexford Town - trained by Jim Bolger, who has claimed two of the last three runnings of the feature.

Lyons is doubly represented today with Percy and World War, and stable jockey Colin Keane elects to partner the former. Percy was a close third at Leopardstown last time with today's Aidan O'Brien-trained top weight Finn McCool in arrears.

Joseph O'Brien runs Druids Cross in an attempt to get on the Ulster Derby roll of honour.

Jessica Harrington has won the local Derby a couple of times in recent years and runs Tilly's Chilli, which has won her last three starts, while the Noel Meade-trained Wingingit has won both her most recent starts.

Bolger has an excellent record in today's big race and his sole runner is the Godolphin-owned Clongowes, but a worry is that the colt has filled the runner-up spot in each of his last four efforts.

The trainer, though, is a master at finding the key and this race could have been the aim for some time, plus the fact that Godolphin are presently on a roll of winners at Ascot this week.

The Dermot Weld-trained Mujaazy returned to action last month at the Curragh and will appreciate the step up in trip.

The Coolmore Ulster Oaks is the supporting feature. Pandagreen, Lady Derrynane, Remarkable Lady and Dragon Fei hold the main claims.

Top weight Elm Brove has the burden eased by trainer Willie McCreery utilising the apprentice's claim, while Tony Martin's Dancing Doll needs to be noted on her return to action with top apprentice Oisin Orr in the saddle. Dragon Fei could prevail if accounting for the top weight.

Wolfofbaggotsstreet and Damselfly are the form duo in the opening two-year maiden and the latter is taken to score for Joseph O' Brien and his jockey sister, Anastasia.

The Eddie Lynam-trained Miss Power gets the vote in the five furlong sprint. Independence Day, a course winner two years ago, carries top weight and is now trained by Shane Donohoe, but Strategic Force can give the selection most to do.

Moira trainer Lee Smyth is represented by Duncan Of Scotland in the Value Cabs Handicap after winning two of his last three starts. Our Max is another local runner.

Bien Chase would be a poignant winner, being formerly owned and trained by the late Lady Jane Alexander, and will be suited by dropping back in distance.

Guiding Star scored at Fairyhouse and looks capable of a possible follow-up, but Bien Chase - now trained by Adrian McAllister in Armagh - could offer the best value in an open contest.

Pirolo, trained by Bolger, gets the vote in the Down Royal Handicap where local hopes Roses Need Rain, Manomine and Black Agnes all have place claims. Mystic Traveller gets preference over likely favourite Two For Tea in the finale.

Belfast Telegraph

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