Prince of Lir rules Norfolk

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TwinSpires Staff

June 16th, 2016

Edited Press Release

Jockey Luke Morris was all smiles after he registered his first Royal Ascot win when piloting Prince of Lir to a half-length victory in the Norfolk Stakes (Eng-G1) going five furlongs Thursday afternoon.

"It's an unbelievable buzz coming into this winners' enclosure and it's what you spend your long nights and early mornings working towards. It's great to get that first winner," Morris said.

The Robert Cowell-trained two-year-old was one of the first off the bridle, holding near the rear of the field, and looked slightly outpaced. However, he stuck to his task well and stayed on strongly in the final furlong to extend his unbeaten record.

The 8-1 shot had made a winning debut at Beverley in the Brian Yeardley Continential Two-Year-Old Trophy, beating The Last Lion 1 1/4 lengths, and the same rival was runner-up again in the Norfolk.

Morris revealed the race hadn't gone exactly to plan from the start.

"He came off the bridle a long way from home and I was actually quite concerned," Morris explained. "He traveled really well first time at Beverley but he's shown a good attitude here and stuck his head out well.

"Prince of Lir has only had one start and is just a little bit inexperienced. He is a very talented horse and once he hit the rising ground and got rolling he put the race to bed nicely.

“I'd say that six furlongs would be an option for him,” Morris added. “He's a good, forward two-year-old and there should be more to come.

Prince Of Lir was the quickest breeze-up horse at this year's Goffs UK Doncaster Breeze-Up Sale in April of this year and was purchased by Stroud Coleman Bloodstock for £170,000.

The son of Kodiac gave Cowell his third Royal Ascot winner.

"He looked almost a little outpaced with two furlongs to go and I thought we were in trouble,” the trainer said. “He is a little bit lazy and not a typical Kodiac – he’s actually very lazy perhaps a little too switched off but he found the gears when it mattered.

"It was an aim of mine to win a maiden with a two-year-old, let alone a race like this at Royal Ascot. We had a really good bunch of two-year-olds this year but we had a bit of cream rising to the top and he was one of them.

"Prince of Lir is an absolute pocket rocket. He is not very big, but very well formed and very mature. He has showed a brilliant attitude during the little time we have had him. 

"He has proved himself pretty useful. It's all come together; I'm delighted for all the team."

Cowell suggested the Irish-bred colt will remain at the minimum distance for now.

"He will stay at five furlongs, we won't go to any other trip, a stiff five is absolutely ideal. I think somewhere like Goodwood would be ruled out as it is a bit too sharp for him."

Trainer Mark Johnston was pleased with the effort from The Last Lion after the two-year-old finished second in the Norfolk Stakes at 20-1.

"The form is usually right and he's run to form,” Johnson said of Choisir colt. “The winner has improved a bit for the second run and apart from him the only other horse to finish in front of my runner is the American filly (Create a Dream), who runs here tomorrow.”

Speaking about possible future plans, Johnston added, "We would be open-minded in terms of six furlongs. I don't think we should say he is better on soft ground because his form on fast ground is also very good. Some horses don't handle soft and he's shown us today that he does and makes him more versatile and means we don't have shy away from cut in the ground in future."

Silver Line, trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by James Doyle, finished a neck behind The Last Lion in third.

"He has run well – he just lacked a bit of speed,” Doyle noted. “I was happy with the early part of the race but, just when I needed him to find a few lengths, he flattened out."

Prince of Lir photo courtesy of Ascot Racecourse via Twitter