SIX-year-old Liege, who hasn’t won since his Gr1 Summer Cup success in November 2017, bounced back to winning ways with a facile win in Saturday’s Gr3 Lonsdale Stirrup Cup over 2400m at Greyville. His Summer Cup pilot Raymond Danielson held the reins of the 16-1 shot.
Sean Tarry had said in interviews before a few races prior to Saturday that he was expecting something, feeling that Liege was about ready for a show of strength. While that didn’t quite transpire, he was encouraged by the gelding’s Gold Bowl run over 3200m on Champions Day.
Tarry explained: “After the Summer Cup he disappointed us in the 2018 Durban July, he seemed lacklustre. And following that he was outpaced in a few runs, he seemed to be looking for more ground, some of Dynasty’s offspring can do that.
“When I stepped him up to 2400m in February he ran a fair race and then last time, over 3200m, he pulled under top weight of 60kg and still race a good race, beaten under five lengths by Sunshine Silk.
“That things didn’t go right for him and he still ran well, gave me hope for the Lonsdale, in which he raced with just 55kg over 2400m. His rating has dropped from a high of 110 to 95 and as a Gr1 winner he wasn’t hard to find on form.”
Liege was a R650,000 buy for Chris van Niekerk at the 2014 CTS Ready To Run Sale. His earnings from seven wins and five places stand at R2,2-million.
Tarry’s champion filly Return Flight (17-4 second favourite), was beaten 3,85-lengths into fifth, a disappointing run in the Woolavington Stakes after three straight, top-level wins.
The trainer was perplexed by the run and commented: “Return Flight had a good preparation, she gave us an excellent final gallop and we expected her to fight it out. I cannot offer an explanation, she pulled up well.
“Return Flight has beaten Blossom twice and Seville Orange was almost three lengths behind us last time, both finished in front of her in the Woolavington, that tells the story.”
“She was crossed in the straight and that could have affected her as she likes to build up her finishing run, and perhaps she could’ve sat closer to the pace, but I can’t say those are valid excuses. It’s best to ignore this run, draw a line through it.”