Lyons backs Naas chief's wish for track to be rewarded with Group 1
Naas chairman Dermot Cantillon's quest to see the racecourse rewarded for its continued improvements with a Group 1 Flat race has been backed by leading trainer Ger Lyons, who ranks the track as the best sprint venue in Ireland.
Lyons was responding to comments made on Sunday by Cantillon at the official opening of a new two-tier building at Naas called The Circle, where he expressed a wish that Horse Racing Ireland allocated fixtures and races on merit rather than tradition.
Ireland has five premier tracks – the Curragh, Leopardstown, Punchestown, Fairyhouse and Galway – and Lyons is irked that Naas is not one of them.
He said: “Naas is without question one of our premier tracks and I would say it’s a better sprint track than the Curragh as there’s no draw bias.
“We haven’t got a plethora of sprint tracks in Ireland and in my opinion Naas is the best. How Galway is mentioned as a premier track and Naas isn’t is beyond me.”
Only Aidan O'Brien – with 14 winners – bettered Lyons's haul of 11 wins at Naas last year, and the Kiltale-based trainer would like to see Cantillon and his crew rewarded with a top race for their continued efforts."
He said: “Naas has done a lot of work at the track down the years and in time they deserve a big race.
“I would have had no problem if the Flying Five Stakes [which has been upgraded to a Group 1 in 2018] had taken place at Naas last year if the Curragh was closed during its renovations, but obviously that didn’t happen.
“They’re a very proactive track. It’s not going to be one of our premier tracks – it’s already a premier track.
"It’s easy to get to, the facilities are improving all the time, and while I haven’t seen the new building yet, it looks viewer friendly and has been very well received."
He added: “I would rather see more races on the Flat at Naas, Navan and the bigger tracks.
“Ultimately, our goal as Flat trainers is to sell horses but our purchasers aren’t stupid and they know where our second-rate tracks are and where they aren’t.
“For that reason, I’d be happier if there was more Flat racing at the bigger tracks. I’d have no qualms about concentrating our business on the minority of our tracks.”
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