JONATHAN FITZPATRICK, Keatingstown Bloodstock

Sir Gerhard (Ire), 2015 g. by Jeremy out of Faanan Aldaar, by Authorized

THERE were surely tears of joy when Sir Gerhard won for a second time at the Cheltenham Festival. He won last year’s Grade 1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper, at the Dublin Racing Festival he took his first hurdling Grade 1, and brought his tally to three at the highest level in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. He has won seven of his eight starts.

Sir Gerhard has justified the £400,000 spent on him at the 2019 Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale after he won his only point-to-point start. He was sold as a foal at Goffs to Peter Molony’s Rathmore Stud for €17,000 and made a profit when returning to the Land Rover Sale and making €72,000.

He is the first foal and one of two winners from Faanan Aldaar. She was placed many times before selling at Goffs for €17,000. Racing for Joe Fitzpatrick, she was placed many times before getting her head in front in a maiden hurdle at Roscommon.

Faanan Aldaar is one of nine winners from the Group 3 winner Ya Hajar. The best of the others is Prince Of All, winner of the Listed Patton Stakes at Dundalk eight years ago. Ya Hajar being one of 10 successful progeny out of the German two-year-old listed winner Shy Lady, and one of them stood head and shoulders above the others.

Zafeen was runner-up to Refuse To Bend in the 2000 Guineas before heading to Royal Ascot and capturing the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes.


Flooring Porter (Ire), 2015 g. by Yeats out of Lillymile, by Revoque

IN 1954 Jackie Power partnered the five-year-old Turkish Spice to the most important of her seven career wins, victory coming at the Curragh in the Irish Cambridgeshire. This was the only time that trainer John Oxx senior saddled the winner of this competitive, and then very prestigious, handicap.

Sent to stud, Turkish Spice produced three winners, but it has taken more than six decades, and a number of generations, for the next significant winner in these parts to appear in the family.

Turkish Spice is the fourth dam of Lillymile, a Sean Murphy homebred, and that winning point-to-pointer went on to win a couple of hurdle races when trained by Pauline Gavin.

Now Lillymile features as the dam of Flooring Porter, the Co Galway-based Sean Murphy-bred son of Yeats who added the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown in 2020 to a previous win in the Grade 2 Proudstown Hurdle at Navan. If this was something of a career and family highlight, it was nothing compared to what was to follow.

At Cheltenham in March Flooring Porter raised the roof when he won the Grade 1 Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle for the second time, and in between he was runner-up in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown. He was courageous in defeat when chasing home Sire Du Berlais in the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree. He has winnings now that are north of £500,000. Sean is chairman of the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association’s western region.

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

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

THE best is yet to come for the Grade 1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper winner Facile Vega. He is unbeaten in three starts, also winning the Grade 2 Goffs Future Stars INH Flat Race at Leopardstown, and has already banked £100,000 for his owner/breeders, the Hammer and Trowel Syndicate. He is bred to be as good as he is.

Facile Vega is the second foal, runner and winner for Quevega, and what a racemare she was for the Hammer and Trowel Syndicate, Ger O’Brien and Sean Deane. She was such a standing dish at Cheltenham.

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 by Walk In The Park, a full-brother to the Cheltenham 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 must have been over the moon as he watched The Nice Guy extend his unbeaten record to four with victory in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. Con 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. 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.