DID we see an Aintree Grand National winner at Listowel? All the signs would say that we did.

While Numbersixvalverde never graced the track at the Co Kerry venue, that 2006 Aintree hero carried the colours of Bernie Carroll and was trained by Martin Brassil. So too does this year’s Guinness Kerry National winner, Desertmore House, though in this case Carroll owns the eight-year-old in partnership with Anthony Vaughan.

The bay son of Court Cave (Sadler’s Wells) has the profile of a potential Aintree winner. A winning graduate of the point-to-point sphere, he was disappointing in bumpers when partnered by his owner, John Reddington, managing a single placed effort in seven outings.

After he won his first outing when switched to hurdling, he changed ownership to Bernie Carroll, and with a second win over the smaller obstacles under his belt, ownership was joined, Anthony Vaughan becoming a partner. Desertmore House failed to add to those wins over hurdles, but the change to chasing has brought about a whole new vista, and he has now won three of his four starts over fences.

Bred by Harry Fowler, Desertmore House was sold as a newly-turned yearling at Tattersalls Ireland to Bishopstown Stud for €9,000. Two and a half years later the market valued him at just €5,000, again at Tattersalls Ireland, and Denis Leahy acquired him on this occasion. After he won a point to-point with him on his only outing between the flags, Leahy sold the gelding, now aged six, online for £23,500.

Desertmore House and his half-sister Windy Bottom (Milan), successful in a point-to-point, are two of just five offspring of the unraced Swinley Bottom (Woods Of Windsor). She, in turn, was one of eight offspring from the four-time point-to-point winner Knockea Hill (Buckskin), and just one of these made any impact. He was Shardam (Shardari), and all but one of his six wins were over fences. He liked Cheltenham, won a listed chase there, and at the Festival he was runner-up in the Grade 3 National Hunt Handicap Chase.


While winners are scarce in parts of this family, there are still five blacktype winners descending from Vanessa’s Queen (Faberge II), the fourth dam of the Listowel feature race winner. In addition to him and Shardam, the Group 2 Troytown Chase winner Takagi (Husyan) appears in a different branch, as do graded hurdle winners Clondaw Caitlin and Sayce Gold (Gold Well).

Clondaw Caitlin, though she comes from a distant branch of the same family, shares with Desertmore House the distinction of being by Court Cave. Impeccably-bred, but unraced, Court Cave was guided to stallion success at Boardsmill Stud by William and John Flood. His first crop included the Grade 2-winning hurdler and chaser Champion Court, and he was followed by the Grade 2 Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Court Minstrel.

Two sons of Court Cave won the Grade 1 Neptune Investment Bingham Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham, Willoughby Court and City Island, while other notable runners, and blacktype winners, for the stallion include Call Me Lyreen, Hurricane Georgie, Into Overdrive, Court Maid, Limited Reserve, Mister Whitaker, Listen To The Man, and Desirable Court.

Merry Maker

Meanwhile, in the USA, the Irish-bred Merry Maker, a six-year-old son of Malinas (Lomitas), became the second big race winner over jumps in the USA for the unraced Revoque (Fairy King) mare Sparkling Gem. Incredibly, the breeder of this recent big race winner, Matthew Hayes, purchased the dam for just €1,000 at Goresbridge as a seven-year-old.

That was the year in which Sparkling Gem’s son Show Court (Vinnie Roe) was born, and he won three important races over hurdles in the USA.

Now he is joined on the winner’s rostrum by Merry Maker, and his third win over jumps in America came in the Listed (Grade 1 jumps in the USA) Lonesome Glory Hurdle at Belmont. This has all happened since he won a point-to-point at the second time of asking here in Ireland.

This is an incredibly deep female family, and it enjoys as much success with its jumpers as it does with its flat performers. Sparkling Gem’s half-brother Adjareli (Nishapour) won a listed classic trial at Leopardstown and was runner-up in the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas. Two of their siblings bred blacktype winners under both rules.

Adjalisa (Darshaan) is dam of the South African and UAE Group 2 winner Front House (Sadler’s Wells), the Grade 2-winning hurdler Royal Irish Hussar (Galileo), and the listed juvenile winner Access All Areas (Approach The Bench) who was second in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes. The unraced Adjisa (Doyoun) bred the Punchestown Grade 1 Champion Novice Hurdle winner Spirit Of Adjisa (Invincible Spirit), and the stakes-winning Irish filly Princess Nala (In The Wings).

Godolphin strike rich Canadian vein

RUNNER-UP three years ago when beaten a short head by Poetic Flare in the Group 1 2000 Guineas, Master Of The Seas appeared to have reached his zenith at that level, but his seventh career victory has finally seen him smash the glass ceiling, and at the weekend he won one of Canada’s handful of international Grade 1 races, the Woodbine Mile.

At two Master Of The Seas won the Group 2 Superlative Stakes on his second start, earlier this year he captured the Group 2 Zabeel Mile, ran third in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta, and back in Europe he added the Group 2 Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile at Ascot to his win tally. This trip to Canada was his first start since, and he looks to be a real contender for more top-level honours at the Breeders’ Cup.

A homebred, he is a son of Dubawi (Dubai Millennium), and the first Group or Grade 1 winner by the sire out of a daughter of Danehill (Danzig). For a long time it seemed almost impossible for the family to get a Group 1 winner, such was the bout of seconditis it was suffering from. Master Of The Seas’ dam Firth Of Lorne, a listed winner of three races, was beaten a length by Zenda in the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches-French 1000 Guineas, and another of her sons, Latharnach (Iffraaj), was runner-up to Gleneagles in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes.

Record straight

A daughter of Firth Of Lorne put the record straight however, as the Group 3 UAE Oaks winner Falls Of Lora (Street Cry) is the dam of a pair of Group/Grade 1 winners, both gelded as is last weekend’s winner, and one is a son of Dubawi – and won his Grade 1 in Canada too.

Two years ago Albahr (Dubawi) won the Grade 1 Summer Stakes, one of the recent features, while his older half-brother Cascadian (New Approach) suffered the unkindest cut of all at three, in spite of the Fabre-trained colt (as he was) running second in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat.

After he was cut, Cascadian was sent to James Cummings in Australia. He has now compiled an amazing record of successes, 11 in all, and at Group 1 level he has won the All Aged Stakes, Australian Cup and Doncaster Mile Handicap. He has also amassed earnings of £4.6 million.

Firth Of Lorne is the best of the seven winners from Kerrera (Diesis), and the family history of seconditis extends to her also. Kerrera won the Group 3 Cherry Hinton Stakes at two and the following spring was beaten less than a length by Musical Bliss in the 1989 Group 1 1000 Guineas. Kerrera’s unraced daughter June Moon (Sadler’s Wells) produced the Group 2 Premio Parioli-Italian 2000 Guineas winner Dupont (Zafonic) and his German Group 2 winning full-brother Pacino.

One of nine winners out of the Group 3 Musidora Stakes winner Rimosa’s Pet (Petingo), Kerrera had a half-brother Rock City (Ballad Rock) who was one of the best juveniles of 1989. Born a year after his classic-placed sibling, he won the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes and Group 3 Coventry Stakes as a juvenile, and frustratingly he found one too good for him in both the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes and the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes.

Sun shines on Iberian

THE Group 2 Champagne Stakes has been won by some very smart horses in recent years, Too Darn Hot in 2018 and Bayside Boy two years ago among them.

The latter was bred by Ballylinch Stud and raced in the colours of Teme Valley and the Co Kilkenny farm in partnership. Bayside Boy went on to crown his racing career with victory in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes before commencing stud duties, back at the place of his birth, this year.

Well, the latest winner of the Champagne Stakes is another to carry the silks of Teme Valley, and to race in partnership with Ballylinch, again being bred at that farm. Iberian (Lope De Vega) did go to the sales, and Johnny McKeever and Charlie Hills signed for him at 200,000gns. A winner on his debut, he found just Hateem too good for him in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, but at Doncaster he put that defeat behind him with an impressive performance. Iberian is held in the highest regard by his trainer.

The Champagne win came in the weeks leading up to Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, and nestled among the lots in that sale is a full-brother to Iberian. They are the second and third progeny of the Killarney listed winner Bella Estrella (High Chaparral), and she won three of her five starts. Having had three colts by Lope De Vega (Shamardal), this year Bella Estrella had another colt, this time by No Nay Never (Scat Daddy).

In 2001, Ballylinch Stud invested 320,000gns in Uncharted Haven (Turtle Island). A winner in France, she blossomed when sent to race in America and there she was a very solid Grade 2 performer, winning both the San Clemente Stakes at Del Mar and the San Gorgonio Handicap in Santa Anita at that level. She has certainly made her mark also at stud, with five winners, though it is a twice-raced daughter who really put her on the map.

Best performers

Bella Estrella and her Group 3-winning full-sister High Heeled (High Chaparral) were Uncharted Haven’s best racecourse performers. The latter won Newbury’s St Simon Stakes, but she was placed in a couple of Group 1 contests, namely the Oaks and the Coronation Cup, both at Epsom. The listed winner Pabouche (Dubawi) is the best of High Heeled’s winners.

However, Joan Keaney’s €26,000 investment in Uncharted Haven’s daughter Faraday Light (Rainbow Quest) after she was twice unplaced at three hit the jackpot. That mare had three stakes performers among her many successful progeny, but nothing to match Just The Judge (Lawman), the €50,000 Goffs Orby yearling who became a 4,500,000gns sale sensation at the age of four. This was thanks to victories in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas and Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes in Canada.

Ballylinch Stud’s Lope De Vega delivers year on year, and 2023 is no different. With at least 15 stakes winners already since January 1st, Iberian is the second of his juveniles to win at group level, joining the unbeaten four-time winner Beauvatier. They are from the stallion’s tenth crop, and on the flat he has now amassed 67 pattern winners, 119 stakes winners, and more than 200 stakes performers. Class is certainly permanent in the case of the dual French classic winner.

Patience has its rewards

WITH perfect timing, Maud Gonne Spirit (Intello) carried the colours of Olivia Hoare to a surprise success in the Listed Edmund and Josie Whelan Memorial Listowel Stakes this week.

This week, at the Goffs Orby Sale, breeders Mark Dixon and Luke and Tabitha Lillingston’s Mount Coote Stud, are offering her yearling half-sister by Zarak (Dubawi) for sale.

Good things come to those who wait, or have patience, and this is certainly the case with Maud Gonne Spirit. Mount Coote Stud and Olivia Hoare are close in terms of location and relationships. Now a six-year-old, Maud Gonne Spirit would have surely been sent to stud by most owners and breeders, given that she won twice at three and comes from a smart female line.

The decision, for whatever reason, to race on until now, has been rewarded with valuable blacktype, the first the mare has gained in four seasons racing, and this was her sixth career win.

She is the first foal out of Bari (Cape Cross), and that mare’s second foal, Just Jacob (Charm Spirit), is also a multiple winner. They are the only runners to date for Bari, and her Zarak yearling is only her fourth living offspring, joined this year by a colt foal by Space Blues (Dubawi).

Bari was bred and raced by Mark Dixon and Luke Lillingston, and she did not run until she was four, winning and being placed a number of times in the care of Lucy Wadham.

This is a family that Olivia Hoare, Luke Lillingston and Mark Dixon have had immense success with, and they have owned or bred many of its best performers, such as Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan and Prix du Moulin de Longchamp winner Dreamloper (Lope De Vega) who sold to Japan last November for $2.7 million, and the Group 2 Doncaster Cup winner Thomas Hobson (Halling). Dixon was also the breeder, this time with Ashbrittle Stud, of Talent (New Approach), winner of the Group 1 Oaks a decade ago.

Prescott is on the mark with Tiffany

SIR Mark Prescott is a great man when it comes to finding suitable stakes races abroad for his runners, especially fillies, and he has done it again with the three-year-old Tiffany.

This daughter of Farhh (Pivotal) is a more valuable broodmare prospect now that she has added a listed success in Germany to three wins at Wolverhampton, Windsor and Newcastle. The filly is owned and was bred by the Elite Racing Club, and she comes from a family that has been very good to them over many years now.

All of this success came about following the 23,000gns purchase by Paul Cole of Kalinka (Soviet Star) as a breezer in 1996. She won at two and placed seven times, and she also placed over hurdles when moved to Charlie Egerton.

Elite Racing Club kept her to breed from, a move that was to prove inspired. In the Club’s colours they enjoyed five Group 1 wins with Kalinka’s best runner, Soviet Song (Marju), twice a champion racemare in Europe, and they won the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle with her son Penzance (Pennekamp).

They have also kept and bred from daughters and granddaughters of Kalinka. Success at the highest levels have come from Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet winner Ribbons (Manduro), who is out of an own-sister to Soviet Song), while Kalinka’s winning daughter Baralinka (Barathea) is the grandam of Marsha (Acclamation).

Trained, like Tiffany, by Sir Mark Prescott, Marsha was a brilliant sprinter, with victories in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes and Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp, after which she sold to M.V. Magnier for 6,000,000gns in 2017.

Stands privately

Farhh, winner of the Group 1 Champion Stakes and Lockinge Stakes, stands privately at Dalham Hall, and Tiffany is one of a dozen blacktype winners he has sired. If that figure does not seem much after six crops aged three and upwards, bear in mind that he has achieved it from relatively small crops. He gets classy runners, and eight of that dozen stakes winners have won at pattern level, led by Group 1 winners Fonteyn (Sun Chariot Stakes in 2022) and King Of Change (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes).

Tiffany is the best of five winners to date for Affinity (Sadler’s Wells), and she won or placed in six of her eight starts. Two other daughters of Affinity have earned blacktype racing, Zest (Duke Of Marmalade) and Harmonica (Pivotal).