KARAWAAN ran out a decisive winner of the Tote Irish Lincolnshire at Naas.
The €100,000 contest is the traditional feature on the first day of the Irish turf flat season, and another fiercely competitive field of 20 runners went to post.
The heavily backed 6/1 favourite Warnaq set out to make all the running and was still in the lead racing inside the final two furlongs.
However, his effort then soon petered out, passed first by Trading Point before 9/1 shot Karawaan – making his first appearance for Ger Lyons, having previously been trained in Britain by Sir Michael Stoute – took the initiative.
Despite having been off the track since last June, the five-year-old showed no signs of rustiness – galloping on strongly in the hands of former champion jockey Colin Keane to emerge victorious by two and three-quarter lengths.
Trading Point (25/1) filled the runner-up spot, while Master Speaker (12/1) made late gains to beat Warnaq to third place.
The first big handicap of the season goes to Karawaan who wins the Tote Irish Lincolnshire under Colin Keane ?? pic.twitter.com/4BK0pPKdX0— Naas Racecourse (@NaasRacecourse) March 24, 2019
Shane Lyons, assistant to his brother, said: “He hasn’t missed a day since Gaelic Bloodstock purchased him. He’s done a lot of cantering to get a good base into him.
“We weren’t sure how he’d cope with the ground – his action at home suggested he could handle it, although you’re never sure until you run them.
“Colin said he got a great feel off him going down to the start, and he galloped through the ground. We always thought that he’d step up to a mile and a quarter – but there is no need to be stepping him up when he wins a handicap like that.
“A lot of credit goes to David Spratt, and Gaelic Bloodstock who purchased him, and we’ll make a plan now. We’re only learning as much as the rest – but it’s a good way to learn.
“Ger isn’t feeling too well, so he decided to stay at home.”
READ THE FULL NAAS REPORT IN NEXT WEEKEND'S EDITION OF THE IRISH FIELD