Charles Byrnes Has Dubai Gold Target For Irish Leger Winner Sonnyboyliston

Sonnyboyliston: has joined Charles Byrnes |


Widely regarded as one of the best dual-purpose trainers in Ireland, Charles Byrnes has taken over the training of classy Flat stayer and 2021 G1 Irish St Leger scorer Sonnyboyliston (Ire) (Power {GB}), who could make his debut for his new connections in the G2 Dubai Gold Cup on Mar. 25.

Sonnyboyliston has not been seen since finishing second in a valuable handicap at Riyadh almost a year ago for Johnny Murtagh, who guided the gelding to six career wins, including an epic in the valuable Sky Bet Ebor before plundering Irish St Leger glory in that same memorable season.

However, the 6-year-old, who carried the colours of the Kildare Racing Club on all 15 of his career starts and won over €1 million in prize-money, has been sold privately to continue his career with Byrnes.

Speaking to What's The Craic DubEye, a new Irish-run website in Dubai, Byrnes explained how the Gold Cup at Meydan could be Sonnyboyliston's first port of call, and said, “Definitely, Dubai would be a possibility if it doesn't come too early for him.”

He added, “We got Sonnyboyliston. It's very exciting to get him with his profile–an Irish St Leger and Ebor winner. We're very fortunate to get him. We're very excited.”

The Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot-winning trainer, who sent out Run For Oscar (Ire) (Oscar {Ire}) to take the Cesarewitch at Newmarket in October, also revealed that Sonnyboyliston's new owner has also sent him a half-sister to the star stayer.

Byrnes said, “We also have his half-sister [by Starspangledbanner (Aus)] and she'll be starting off early in the Flat season. She's very exciting, too. Hopefully she'll go the right way.”

His Flat string may be growing but Byrnes will forever be associated with plundering big-race riches over jumps and is charting a path towards this year's Cheltenham Festival with leading Pertemps Final hope Shoot First (Ire) (Westerner {GB}) and Stayers' Hurdle candidate Blazing Khal (Ire) (Kalanisi {Ire}), who the trainer admitted was only 50-50 to make it to the race.

Byrnes said, “We had a great day in Cheltenham already with Shoot First when he won the qualifier in October. He's owned by a great bunch of lads. He's qualified for the Festival now so hopefully he goes there with a chance.”

On Blazing Khal, he added, “We're 50-50. We didn't have a great run with him all along but I think we are getting back on track to some degree. Whether Cheltenham will come too soon for him is debatable. We'll try and get a run into him within the next month and go from there. You've Aintree and Punchestown. You also have France, which could be an option for him further down the road.”

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