Royal Ascot: York’s Nunthorpe Stakes becomes strong option for Prince of Lir

A view of the parade ring during day four of Royal Ascot 2016. Picture: David Davies/PA
A view of the parade ring during day four of Royal Ascot 2016. Picture: David Davies/PA
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PROUD owner Peter Swann was overcome by a “wave of emotion” – and said it was not about the money – after Prince Of Lir secured a memorable Royal Ascot victory that was warmly received by officials of Beverley racecourse.

The two-year-old son of Zodiac, trained in Newmarket by Robert Cowell and ridden by Luke Morris, dazzled in the Group Two Norfolk Stakes over six furlongs with a half-length success over The Last Lion, vindicating Swann’s decision to turn down several offers for his horse of a lifetime.

It was, too, a significant result for Beverley racecourse as Prince Of Lir also defeated the same rival on his debut in the Brian Yeardley Continental Two-Year-Old Trophy on the Westwood last month.

Prince Of Lir carries the Cool Silk Partnership silks of Swann, who is chairman of Scunthorpe United Football Club, and his mother-in-law, Barbara Wilkinson.

Swann said: “We’ve been waiting 18 years for something like this. You never know how you are going to react to a Royal Ascot winner, but the wave of emotion was almost too much.

“It was also exciting as I think the horse won in spite of the ground. Robert was a bit worried about running him at Beverley because of the competition in the field, but we made the decision to go and it worked out really well. The Beverley race was ideal for us as it came at the right time with Royal Ascot in mind.”

Plans are now fluid for Prince Of Lir, who will be given a well-deserved break before his owners and Cowell formulate a game plan. York’s Nunthorpe Stakes is one option.

Swann said: “There’s no rush – and absolutely no pressure on us.

“We turned down an offer of three-quarters of a million pound for the horse, but it’s not about the money. If we’d have missed out on a Royal Ascot winner we’d have been absolutely gutted.”

The five-furlong Brian Yeardley – a £25,000 conditions stakes – has in recent years gone from strength to strength and was won last year by First Selection, who finished second in the French Derby in May.

Beverley chief executive Sally Iggulden said: “Prince Of Lir looks a horse of great substance who is surely going to enjoy many more halcyon days on the racecourse.

“We have worked very hard to try to attract the very best horses to Beverley, with the Brian Yeardley, the Hilary Needler and, of course, the Beverley Bullet firmly established on the racing calendar.”

Beverley’s next meeting is on Tuesday.