GER Lyons picked a good day to return to the racecourse.
The Co Meath trainer has rarely been sighted on the track during the pandemic but put in an appearance at Leopardstown on Saturday to see no fewer than four of his horses win.
The most significant of the yard's four winners was Atomic Jones, who came with a storming run down the outside to lift the Group 2 KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes.
Another huge winner for Ger Lyons and @ctkjockey at @LeopardstownRC! ??— Horse Racing Ireland (@HRIRacing) September 11, 2021
Atomic Jones takes the Group 2 @KPMG_Ireland Champions Juvenile Stakes with a late charge down the centre of the track ?? pic.twitter.com/qYhPt7br7h
Absent since making a winning debut at the Curragh 11 weeks ago, Atomic Jones (10/1) overpowered the opposition in the final half-furlong to give the Lyons team a fairytale start to Irish Champions Weekend.
There were plenty in with chances a furlong out – but it was the Wootton Bassett colt who came out on top by half a length in a bunch finish.
Stone Age was second with Absolute Ruler half a length away in third place.
“He’s done for the year I’d say, he’s a real horse for next year over a mile plus,” said Lyons who had not been racing since Even So's win in the Irish Oaks in July of last year.
“He’s a big, huge baby and I didn’t even expect to be running him this year, never mind winning two.
“I’d say he’s a smart horse, plenty of ability. He’s done that without even knowing he’s done it, just pure raw ability.
“I think he’s typical of the sire, good, strong and dependable.
“We’d always start them at a mile (next year), but I’d say more than a mile will be his trip.”
A few minutes earlier, Panama Red had got Lyons and Keane off the mark for the day when stepping up from a maiden success to land the Listed Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes.
Panama Red strikes in the opener of Longines Irish Champions Weekend!— Racing TV (@RacingTV) September 11, 2021
The filly strikes for Listed honours in a dream start for @ctkjockey and Ger Lyons at @LeopardstownRC @BallylinchStud | @IrishEBF_ | #LICW21 pic.twitter.com/eXG51agW4a
The Showcasing filly had got off the mark at the third attempt at Tipperary and had no trouble doing the business and springing a small surprise.
Corviglia led into the final furlong, but Keane delivered Panama Red (11/1) with a well-timed run to hit the front and stride away to score by half a length.
The well-backed 2/1 favourite Limiti Di Greccio stayed on well for second place with Corviglia a length and three-quarters away in third.
There was drama in the early stages when Shane Crosse was unseated after his mount Voice Of Angels clipped heels. He was able to walk away after the incident while the Joseph O’Brien-trained filly carried on riderless.
Lyons said of the winner: “We know she’s a miler for next year and we’ll probably put her away now and let her grow up. We’ll probably start her back in one of the trials, but I’ll have a word and see what Colin thinks.
“Colin gave her a great ride. That’s just him, we’re just riding the wave with him and we’re lucky to have him.”
There was more success for the trainer later in the afternoon when Camorra led home stable companion Thunder Kiss in the Group 3 Paddy Power Kilternan Stakes.
Owned - like Atomic Jones - by long-standing owner Sean Jones, Camorra (18/1) was partnered by Gary Carroll, with Keane on board the runner-up. The favourite Innisfree was pulled up in this race after appearing to suffer a serious injury.
Lyons and Keane ended the day in the best possible fashion when Masen won the seven-furlong Irish EBF Sovereign Path Handicap.
FOUR on the day for Ger Lyons!— Racing TV (@RacingTV) September 11, 2021
The likeable Masen lands the €125,000 finale on a memorable day one of Longines Irish Champions Weekend ?? @LeopardstownRC | @ctkjockey | #LICW21 pic.twitter.com/dVLwbr1N5O