SEAN DEANE and GER O’BRIEN, Hammer and Trowel Syndicate

Facile Vega (Ire), 2017 g. by Walk In The Park out of Quevega, by Robin Des Champs

WHAT a bumper horse Facile Vega is. The best is yet to come for the Cheltenham Grade 1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper winner who doubled up at Punchestown in the Grade 1 Race and Stay At Punchestown Champion INH Flat Race.

He is unbeaten in four starts, also winning the Grade 2 Goffs Future Stars INH Flat Race at Leopardstown, and has already banked some €180,000 for his owner/breeders, Ger O’Brien and Sean Deane, aka the Hammer and Trowel Syndicate.

Facile Vega is the second foal, runner and winner for Quevega, and what a racemare she was for O’Brien and Deane. Quevega was a three-time winner in France before her purchase to race from Willie Mullins’ yard. From there she added 13 wins over hurdles from just 18 starts.

She won the Grade 1 Ladbroke World Series Tipperkevin Hurdle at Punchestown on four occasions and she landed the Grade 2 David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival a record six times.

Quevega’s first foal Princess Vega, by Beat Hollow, raced for the Hammer and Trowel Syndicate and made a winning bumper debut at Tramore. O’Brien and Deane can look forward to a four-year-old own-sister to Facile Vega, a three-year-old daughter of Camelot, a two-year-old filly by Australia and a colt foal, also by Walk In The Park and a full-brother to the Cheltenham and Punchestown hero.


The Nice Guy (Ire), 2015 g. by Fame And Glory out of Kilbarry Beauty, by Saffron Walden

CON O’Keeffe in Kilbarry Lodge Stud was undoubtedly over the moon as he watched The Nice Guy extend his unbeaten record to five at Punchestown with victory in the Grade 1 Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle, adding to his Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle win at Cheltenham. He must also regret that this is the only foal produced by Kilbarry Beauty, winner of a bumper and a hurdle race and a daughter of the classic winner Saffron Walden, a son of Sadler’s Wells.

Kilbarry Beauty carried the silks of Con’s wife Claire to her victories when trained by John Kiely. The Nice Guy sold as a foal for €33,000, indicative of what a good-looking foal he was. From the second crop of his sire, the colt’s dam was a half-sister to Massini’s Maguire. That gelding sold as a four-year-old for 200,000gns in 2005 after winning a Limerick bumper, and then went on to beat Tidal Bay by a neck in the Grade 1 Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle at the 2007 Cheltenham Festival.

What a loss Fame And Glory has been to Coolmore and to the breeding industry. He died in 2017, four years after going to stud, and has just five crops. He is sure to add further big race wins to his already impressive roll of honour, one that already includes Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle winner Ballyadam, December’s Grade 1 Challow Hurdle winner Stage Star and another 2022 Cheltenham Festival Grade 1 winner in Commander Of Fleet.


Marie’s Rock (Ire), 2015 f. by Milan out of By The Hour, by Flemensfirth

IT was something of a surprise to discover that the Grade 1 victory at Cheltenham for Marie’s Rock in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle, aka the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle, was just the second graded National Hunt success for a son or daughter of the Sadler’s Wells sire Milan out of a mare by Flemensfirth.

Considered by some to have been a surprise winner of that race, Marie’s Rock then travelled to Punchestown and showed that it was no fluke when defeating Stormy Island and Epatante to land a second Grade 1 success in the Coolmore Kew Gardens Irish EBF Mares Champion Hurdle.

This latest win was victory number four, among seven in all, in a blacktype race for Marie’s Rock, as she also won listed races at Taunton and Warwick. It is fitting that she should graduate to win at graded race level, as her dam By The Hour won and placed in graded chases at Leopardstown when trained by Robert Tyner.

Marie’s Rock was bred by Dan Breen in Cashel and sold by him through Railstown Stud for €35,000 at the Goffs Land Rover Sale to Highflyer Bloodstock and Middleham Park Racing. Her winnings now top £190,000 and she is one of a pair of winners for her dam, produced from her first two offspring. Marie’s Rock is Milan’s first Grade 1 winning mare.


Noble Yeats (Ire), 2015 g. by Yeats out of That’s Moyne, by Flemensfirth

NOBLE Yeats won the iconic Randox Grand National, a race that attracts a worldwide audience, and he was bred in Cork by Kristene Hunter and her husband James in Mallow, and their great friend Jerry O’Keeffe in Doneraile.

The son of four-time Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup winner Yeats was sold for €6,500 as a three-year-old to Donie Hassett, for whom he was placed second, beaten a neck, in a point-to-point.

He is now one of four blacktype winners on the pedigree page if you go back five generations. Woods Well won the Grade 2 Carrickmines Handicap Chase at Leopardstown and he appears in a branch of the family back in the fourth generation. Go back one more remove and up pop Red Admiral who won a listed race in his native Uruguay, and his distant relation Thriller who, by virtue of winning a Group 3 race in New Zealand, was accorded champion two-year-old status.

Noble Yeats is the third foal of his dam That’s Moyne. She was trained by Tim Doyle and added a Fairyhouse handicap hurdle win to a victory between the flags at Killaloe. Her first foal, She Mite Bite, was a point-to-point winner, and her second, Hudson Yard by Yeats, won a point-to-point and won over hurdles.

April was a good month for the breeders, also responsible for Encanto Bruno, a point-to-point winner who sold for £210,000 to John McConnell.