Breeders' Cup International Scouting Report: The Lir Jet

December 31st, 2020

The headliner from the first crop of Prince of Lir, The Lir Jet emulated him by scoring his signature win in the Norfolk (G2) at Royal Ascot. But his sire’s trajectory – as an early juvenile who didn’t progress as the season wore on – leaves a lingering question about the son as well for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, especially on a step up in trip.

The Irish-bred was a bargain buy at both his public auction appearances, fetching just €9,500 as a weanling at Tattersalls Ireland and £8,000 as a yearling at the Goffs UK Premier Sale. His dam, the Green Desert mare Paper Dreams, had won a pair of sellers, and you had to go back to his third dam, Italian highweight Papering, to find black type.

The plan was for The Lir Jet to go to the 2-year-olds in training sales for pinhooker Robson Aguiar, but when the calendar was wrecked by COVID, he was instead sold privately. Trainer Michael Bell’s son-cum-assistant Nick picked him up, and the colt proved well bought.

In his debut going five furlongs and 42 yards at Yarmouth, The Lir Jet mixed it up on the front end and pulled away in a course-record :59.00. That caught the attention of Qatar Racing’s Sheikh Fahad, who acquired him in another private sale that was presumably more lucrative.

The Lir Jet again paid immediate dividends in the Norfolk, a “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile Turf Sprint. Now dealing with a much slower surface than at Yarmouth, and better opposition, he was the only one able to stay close enough to Ward’s speedball Golden Pal and collar him as he tired in the shadow of the post.

Sent off as the odds-on favorite next in the about 6-furlong Prix Robert Papin (G2) at Chantilly, The Lir Jet stalked the pace but found fellow British shipper Ventura Tormenta a stubborn foe to pass. The Lir Jet appeared to be getting the upper hand, only to come out on the wrong side of the bob at the wire. While Ventura Tormenta has done nothing for the form, the third-placer in their three-way tussle, Tiger Tanaka, has excelled since going back up in distance and landed the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) on Arc Day.

The Lir Jet’s subsequent attempts at six furlongs haven’t worked out. In the Phoenix (G1) at the Curragh, he was boxing on in contention when the victorious Lucky Vega zoomed past. The filly Aloha Star headed The Lir Jet for second but was demoted for bothering him, in the stewards’ view, and The Lir Jet awarded runner-up honors.

Scratched from the Flying Childers (G2) in favor of the Middle Park (G1), The Lir Jet got outpaced before regrouping in fifth, changing his legs (more than usual) as though trying to cope with Newmarket’s undulating terrain.

Interestingly, connections entered him in the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale, but withdrew. And instead of using the Juvenile Turf Sprint ticket earned in the Norfolk, they’re experimenting over a mile.

If a turning 5 1/2 furlongs might not have suited him, The Lir Jet hasn’t made a persuasive case that he’d improve markedly around a route either. He did reportedly practice going left-handed at Chelmsford.