End of the road: Ger Lyons splits with Qatar Racing over 'difference of opinion'

The highly successful association between Ger Lyons and Qatar Racing has come to a sudden and unexplained halt after what David Redvers, racing manager for Sheikh Fahad's ownership vehicle, described as a "difference of opinion".

Lyons, who saddled a Group 3 winner for the operation just last Monday when the exciting Irish 1,000 Guineas entry Lightening Quick won the Athasi Stakes at Naas, broke the news on his blog on Tuesday.

The respected County Meath handler, who finished third in last season's trainers' championship when he underpinned Colin Keane's triumph in the jockeys' equivalent, has been synonymous with Sheikh Fahad's fledgling operation.

Under the Pearl Bloodstock banner, he provided the Qatari owner's first winner when Wade Giles – who has since been renamed Destined For Glory after being sold to race in Hong Kong – scored under Keagan Latham at Naas in July 2010, and also masterminded their breakthrough Group 1 success when Lightening Pearl took the 2011 Cheveley Park Stakes for Johnny Murtagh at Newmarket.

With his Glenburnie team having started the season in a particularly rich vein of form, it seems unlikely the split is performance-related, and its inexplicable nature was further emphasised by Redvers' glowing tribute to Lyons in response to the development.

"It is with some regret that due to a difference of opinion Qatar Racing and Ger Lyons have decided by mutual consent to part," his statement read.

"Ger is a personal friend and his operation were responsible for many great days, including Lightening Pearl winning both his and our first Group 1 in the 2011 Cheveley Park Stakes.
"We wish him and his top-class team at Glenburnie much success in the future and thank them for the many successes we enjoyed together."

Murtagh and Joseph O'Brien are the other two Irish-based trainers who already have Flat horses for Qatar Racing and are likely to be the chief beneficiaries of the fallout, although it is believed some of the team could be relocated to Britain. Gordon Elliott has also trained a handful of jumpers for the operation, most notably Pallasator.

Lyons, who could not be contacted for further comment, recorded 15 wins from as many individual runners for Qatar Racing in 2017, and the loss of such an influential player is an undeniable setback for such a deeply ambitious and hardworking individual.

The stable's Who's Steph on Sunday confirmed herself a genuine Irish 1,000 Guineas contender when completing back-to-back trial victories at Leopardstown, having been sold to George Strawbridge after winning the first of those.

He said in his blog: “It is with regret that I have to announce I will no longer be training for Qatar Racing as from yesterday [Monday]. We have had some good times and I was delighted to have trained Sheikh Fahad's first winner with Wade Giles.

“Another fantastic day was when we won the Cheveley Park Stakes with Lightening Pearl giving us both our first Group 1 win.

“Time waits for no man and last Monday was another great thrill when we won the Group 3 Athasi Stakes at Naas with Lightening Pearl's daughter Lightening Quick, making her a very valuable broodmare prospect.

“I wish her, Sheikh Fahad and all the Qatar Racing team all the very best in the future and thank them for their fantastic support over the years.”