Donn's Articles » Eddie Lynam

Eddie Lynam

April 13th was a bad day. That was the day that Eddie Lynam’s wife Aileen had a fall.

“You see over there?” Eddie is pointing to the far side of the gallop. “There where the sand is? Right there. That’s where she fell. She was lucky she wasn’t paralysed.”

It was just a normal morning, Aileen was riding out as usual when her horse spooked one way, she went to correct him, then he dived the other way, and she came off and got hung up a little. Eddie knew that it was bad when she didn’t get up immediately. Aileen Lynam is not one of those people who doesn’t get up immediately.

“When we got to her, she could move her toes and her arms. We knew it was an ambulance job, but we thought it wasn’t going to be too bad. Then we got to the hospital, and the news was very bad. She had fractured T2 to T7, and the first doctor to diagnose her was not very hopeful at all. At that point, I wouldn’t have cared if I never trained another racehorse. Thankfully, the doctor was wrong.

“It was a bad time. Dr Adrian McGoldrick was a huge help and Ger Lyons helped us through a lot. Ger’s wife Lynn was great to Aileen during Royal Ascot. Aileen would always go racing, but she obviously had to sit here in a cast while we were all over at Ascot. So Lynn came down here to be with her. I thought that was very good of Lynn.”

Sole Power breezes past. Smaller than he looks on a racecourse, and not doing a great deal, just a half-speed at best, hardly breaking sweat. He generally doesn’t do a great deal, just keeps ticking over. With sprinters, Eddie tells you, the most important thing is to keep their heads right. If you don’t have the head, you don’t have the horse.

“Somebody asked me over at Ascot if he was always this small. I said no, he has shrunk in the last few years.”

Sole Power got everything right at Royal Ascot last month. Head, heart, limbs, lungs, they all came together in a ball of perfectly-timed energy that saw him surge home to get up and land the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes.

June 18th. That was a good day.

Owned by the Power family (of Paddy Power Bookmakers fame – Willie Power is a longtime friend), Sole Power provided his trainer with his first Group 1 win when he sprang a 100/1 shock in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York in 2010. Then, three weeks ago, he provided him with his second when he landed the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. Of the two victories, however, there is no comparison for the trainer.

“It’s great to win your first Group 1 race,” he says. “But I think the King’s Stand meant more because I kind of took it personally that the horse wasn’t getting the recognition that I thought he deserved. Also, there are only three Group 1 races over five furlongs in Europe, the King’s Stand, the Nunthorpe and the Prix de l’Abbaye. He had already won the Nunthorpe, but to me the King’s Stand is the most prestigious.”

This week, Sole Power will bid to land another Group 1 prize when he steps up in trip to six furlongs for the July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday.

“There is no reason why he should get six furlongs,” says Lynam pragmatically. “All his best form is over five. And we always said that we wouldn’t run him over six if it was going to upset his programme over five. But there isn’t a five-furlong race for him until next month. He is settling better in his races now than ever, and Johnny (Murtagh) is convinced that he will get six furlongs, so we said why not give it a try.”

Sole Power will be joined in the July Cup by his stable companion Slade Power. He is a different character. Two years younger for starters. Bigger. More edgy. Not as accomplished yet, but potential bursting out through every pore.

“He hasn’t had the best of luck in life,” says Eddie. “We bred him, so we know him well. His mother tried to kill him just after he was born. Then his foster mother tried to kill him. He got a prod in his chest after he won his two listed races as a three-year-old and it blew up, so he had to miss the Haydock Sprint Cup. Then he broke his pelvis in the British Champions’ Sprint at Ascot in October. He actually broke his pelvis in the race. Ascot did a great job with him, we could have lost him. They got him a police escort through the traffic to Scott Dunn’s practice, and they looked after him really well. He was there until Christmas.”

Lynam has never tried to hide the regard in which he holds Slade Power. He sees his talent at home, he tells you. Look at his form, and you would say listed class horse, maybe Group 3. Look at what he does at home, however, and you would say Group 1. He just has to go and do it now on the racecourse.

“Without being rude,” says Lynam, “he’s a gobshite of a horse. He just does everything so easily, nothing is difficult for him, but when he hits the front, he’ll do nothing for you. You saw him in the Diamond Jubilee at Ascot, he was getting worked up in the stalls just before they opened, and he came out of them like a cow jumping out of a ditch. We were delighted with his win at The Curragh last Saturday, but you saw him there even, he did nothing when he hit the front.

“We may do it at some stage, but he’s not the type of horse that you would want to put blinkers on. You just might light him up too much. But I am convinced the talent is there. He has to go and show it now, but he deserves to take his chance in the July Cup.”

Viztoria will not go to Newmarket this week. She will wait and have her campaign geared towards the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp on Arc de Triomphe weekend. Seven furlongs on easy ground could be her optimum.

“When she turned for home in the Coronation Stakes travelling as well as she was travelling,” recalls Lynam, “I thought, this game is easy! But she just got a bit tired through the final furlong, and she may not have been letting herself down fully on the fast ground. She is a high-class filly, though, and we have never had her in better form.”

It has been a fine season so far for the Dunshaughlin-based trainer. Some 17 winners in Ireland, including two Group 3s, courtesy of Viztoria and Slade Power, plus a Group 3 and a Group 1 in Britain. Add that to the prize money that Balmont Mast and Sole Power won in Dubai and Singapore in the spring, and that brings the trainer’s total prize money for the year to over €1 million.

“Things are going well all right,” he says thoughtfully. “And Aileen is on the mend. She’s perfect thankfully.”

This week could be another good week. July 13th. That could be another good day.

© The Sunday Times, 7th July 2013