Thunder Kiss could step up to Group One company after registering a stylish victory on her seasonal bow in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Noblesse Stakes at Cork.
Trained by Ger Lyons and ridden by Colin Keane, Thunder Kiss was sent off the 2-1 favourite for the Listed heat after scoring at that level on her final outing of last year, with her campaign also encompassing a Group Three verdict in the Munster Oaks.
The five-year-old made short work of her 11 rivals in this 12-furlong contest, asserting her authority in the straight to cruise home by four and a half lengths and set up a potential crack at next month’s Group One Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.
Shane Lyons, the trainer’s brother and assistant, said: “She is a class filly, is a year older and has really matured. The boss has just told me we will aim her high, at Group Twos and Ones, and she has all the proper entries. She excels on a cut in the ground, albeit she has won at Dundalk.
“Colin was very happy with her, they didn’t take her far enough in the race and she took it up two (furlongs) out, but she can look around. In a higher class race, they’ll go quicker and take her to the line.
“We are really going to have fun with her, we’re not asking to win the big races but if she is placed in them, we’ll take that now. She is in the Tattersalls Gold Cup and could go there next.
“She had been training really well and it was a good performance to give weight to everything.”
Toy had her Classic odds clipped after she opened her account at the third time of asking in the opening Welcome To The Racing Home For Easter Festival Maiden.
The Galileo filly is a full sister to Group One winners Gleneagles, Marvellous and Happily, but she had to settle for minor honours in each of her first two outings for Aidan O’Brien.
Sent off the 5-6 favourite to make it third time lucky, Toy could be called the winner from some way out and Seamie Heffernan merely had to keep her up to her work to score by five lengths from the staying-on Esculenta.
Betfair offer 20-1 from 33s about her chances for the 1000 Guineas, while she is the same price for the Oaks from 25-1, but a French Classic may be the preferred option.
Chris Armstrong, representing the winning stable, said: “She has progressed nicely from the last run, Aidan is very happy with her and she’ll go to one of the Guineas. She might go to the French one and that’s why he ran her right-handed around a bend and the seven (furlongs) suited her.
“She is a lovely filly, has an unbelievable pedigree and hopefully has the ability to match it. She is progressing nicely.”
French Claim impressed with a wide-margin victory in the Tote Always SP Or Better Race.
A Listowel maiden winner back in September, he went on to finish fourth for trainer Paddy Twomey in the Group Three Eyrefield Stakes and he was sent off the 5-6 favourite to kick off his season with a victory.
Ridden positively by Billy Lee, French Claim was well in control in the last of the 10 furlongs, coasting to a nine-length verdict over Sussex.
The French Fifteen colt is entered in both the Cazoo Derby at Epsom and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, with a Classic run under consideration by connections.
Twomey said: “He ran a good race meeting loads of trouble in the Eyrefield Stakes last year and that race is working out well. He was more professional today, up in trip and I’d say this trip is his bare minimum.
“He keeps finding and is still learning on the job. He has plenty of entries and there is a one-mile-five-furlong Listed race for three-year-olds only at Navan and he’ll have no problem getting that trip.
“We have him entered in Epsom and his owners (Teme Valley Racing) are keen to go and that is in consideration. A cut in the ground doesn’t inconvenience him and I think he’ll get a mile and six furlongs later in the year, so a race like the St Leger in Doncaster might be right up his street.”