End of the storm for lightening
Lyons salutes 'special' filly as Pearl retires
After a second disappointing run of the season at Leopardstown on Thursday evening, trainer Ger Lyons has taken the decision to retire his first ever Group One winner Lightening Pearl.
The Cheveley Park Stakes heroine from last year provided Lyons with his landmark victory, but on softer ground than is ideal, she failed to progress in either the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket or when lining up in Group Three company this week.
Lyons admitted: "She hasn't been giving us the vibes this year, which I was afraid of as her mum and her sister didn't train on.
"She's very small and light and she won a Group One last season. I pushed David (Redvers, racing manager to owner Sheikh Fahad) to let me run her Thursday as opposed to going to York to find out the inevitable -- it was the right thing to do."
Lyons wasn't looking for excuses the other night as he admitted the time had come to make such a decision. He said: "There were no excuses ground wise -- the ground was good to firm in the straight. She didn't show any signs of encouragement that she was in love with the job."
"She's won a Group One. You can draw a line through the Guineas because of what happened at the start and you could persevere, but I don't see what she could achieve as a three-year-old filly.
"They are in no-man's land."
A three-time winner in total, Lightening Pearl flew the flag high for the Lyons' operation which continues to go from strength to strength, yet must now find a new flag bearer for the season.
"I said we had nothing to achieve so we should put her out, her pedigree suggested she may not train on," said Lyons. "She'll always hold a special place for me. I trained Sheikh Fahad his first winner and also his first Group One winner and I hope it's the start of a long relationship. The Sheikh is very knowledgeable and sent me a nice text last night thanking us."
Sheikh Fahad's racing manager Redvers admitted it was the right decision and added: "We could no doubt find Listed and Group Threes to win going forward but she owes us nothing. She gave Sheikh Fahad his first ever Group One winner, so we thought we'd stop with her now.
"Unless she was going to reach Group One level, Sheikh Fahad doesn't see the point in carrying on. He'd rather have her as a lovely broodmare."