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Favourable barrier gives Lyre a Blue Diamond edge

Mike Hedge

A pair of Godolphin fillies are at the peak of their form and fitness as they prepare to take on a dozen high-class opponents in the $1.5 million G1 Blue Diamond Stakes, at Caulfield on Saturday, 23 February.

Athiri (James Cummings/Craig Williams) and Lyre (Anthony Freedman/Luke Currie), both daughters of Lonhro, go into Australia’s first G1 juvenile event of the season, with little between them and much to recommend them. 

While the barrier draw for the 1,200m contest favoured Lyre, it is possible that Athiri has enough scope for improvement to overcome her wide gate.

At their last start, Lyre was three-quarters of a length ahead of Athiri when she won the G2 Blue Diamond Prelude. In that race, Athiri was forced wide throughout and was still running on at the finish.

“I was disappointed she didn’t win the Prelude,” said her trainer James Cummings.

“But I can’t help thinking it was a pretty good trial for Saturday’s race. 

“Athiri came through the run so well that I can really picture her making a big impression.

“She’s hard and fit and ready to run a very good race.”

The Prelude was Athiri’s second start and followed her debut win in which she accounted for subsequent winner Accession at Rosehill on 1 December.

Lyre, meanwhile, has gone from strength-to-strength since her first start at Flemington on New Year’s Day when she was a fast-finishing fifth.

She showed the benefit of that experience when winning a maiden at Sale three weeks later and improved again to win the Prelude two weeks ago.

The Freedman stable’s racing manager Brad Talbot said Lyre had indicated her readiness for a G1 test in a sparkling gallop at Flemington on Tuesday which compared well with the work of her stablemate and highly-fancied Blue Diamond contender I Am Immortal.  

“Both she and I Am Immortal worked very well over 800m and their rider couldn’t split them,” Talbot said.

“They are both in really great order and Lyre has taken very good improvement from her Prelude run. She’ll run the 1200m right out and she’s very fit.”

The early Blue Diamond favourite Loving Gaby, a winner at her only start, also drew poorly in barrier 12 of 14, one gate to the inside of Athiri.