THE weekend’s racing will have been enjoyable for the Dunlavin, Co Wicklow-based owner and breeder Arthur Craigie. He bred two winners, one in England over hurdles on Saturday and a point-to-point scorer at Ballindenisk the following day.
While he will have been pleased with both, he can have reason to be very excited about the former.
Hillcrest is a six-year-old son of Stowaway (Slip Anchor) and the Grade 3-winning hurdler Shop Dj, a mare that Arthur bred and raced. Saturday’s winner was always going to be a star, but we will get to that shortly.
Shop Dj is the only foal from the unraced Shoplifter (Presenting), a mare bred by Brian Darrer who also bred her dam Sea Gale (Strong Gale). Shoplifter was purchased as a foal by Arthur Craigie for IR£13,000 as a foal at Tattersalls Ireland. She went to stud at the age of three, producing Shop Dj the following spring, and that was to be her sole produce. Shoplifter died in January 2008.
As a racemare Shop Dj won on the second of her two outings between the flags as a four-year-old, captured both her starts in bumpers, and then transferred from Jarlath to Peter Fahey to continue her racing career. She proved to be an admirably smart and consistent performer, and she showed her great adaptability by winning twice over hurdles, once over fences, and also over two miles on the all-weather at Dundalk.
In the course of her career, encompassing 25 starts under rules, she took home winnings north of €140,000. Her best day came at the 2011 Punchestown Festival when she destroyed a quality field assembled for the Grade 3 Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Fillies Scheme European Breeders Fund Mares Hurdle, and the following year she was back at the same meeting to run a distant second to Sir Des Champs in the Grade 1 Champion Novice Chase.
Sent to stud, Shop Dj was first covered by Fame And Glory (Montjeu), producing a colt who sold as a foal from Craigie’s Rottenhill Stud for €21,000. Grange Stud bought him and he resold to Ronnie O’Leary as a three-year-old for a modest profit, making €40,000. Named Bold Record, he went into training with Nicky Henderson and gave Shop Dj the perfect start as a broodmare when winning a maiden hurdle at Uttoxeter on his second start.
Hillcrest was produce number two for Shop Dj and he made exactly double the price brought by Bold Record when selling to Jimmy Murphy’s Redpender Stud for €42,000. The Kilkenny-based Murphy doesn’t do modest profit and, when it came to reselling the then three-year-old at the 2018 Derby Sale, Highflyer Bloodstock had to go to €190,000 to secure him, the sixth-highest price over the two days of the sale.
Owned by the late Trevor Hemmings and sent to Henry Daly to train, Hillcrest did not race until January of this year when he was beaten a neck on his debut in a bumper. He opened his winning account at the second time of asking and then was put away. He reappeared at Aintree over hurdles last month and was successful, but at the weekend he stamped himself as a horse of huge potential when routing the opposition and winning by 20 lengths.
While he may have beaten very little in terms of quality, it was the manner of the victory that was outstanding, and he is a horse of immense potential. This will make for happy reading for the likes of Rathurtin, Ballinaroone and Cois Coille Studs, and Niall Bleahan, who have all purchased some of Hillcrest’s younger siblings.
Shop Dj has visited a different stallion every year she has been at stud, and after Hillcrest was foaled she was covered by Kalanisi (Doyoun) producing an as yet unraced five-year-old mare Kaldedj, Flemensfirth (Alleged) giving a four-year-old gelding, Snow Sky (Nayef) producing a two-year-old filly, Affinisea (Sea The Stars) which resulted in a yearling colt, and this year’s colt foal is a son of Marcel (Lawman). Shop Dj was covered earlier this year by Blue Bresil (Smadoun), and is in foal.
I mentioned earlier that Hillcrest’s third dam was Sea Gale. That Edward O’Grady-trained mare had a race record that was not too dissimilar from that of her granddaughter Shop Dj.
Sea Gale must have liked the air in the west as her best wins were in a Grade 3 novices’ chase in Galway and a listed chase in Roscommon. She was placed in the Grade 3 The Irish Field Chase at Punchestown.
Four of Sea Gale’s seven offspring ran, and three of them won. They included Fourstargale (Fourstars Allstar) who won two bumpers in the hands of JT McNamara and has gone on to breed the outstanding First Lieutenant (Presenting). His seven career wins on the track, in addition to one in a point-to-point, included three at Grade 1 level.
First Lieutenant beat Rock On Ruby in a thriller to land the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, while his final victory was in the Grade 1 Betfred Bowl at Aintree. Those bare facts don’t tell the whole story.
First Lieutenant was runner-up eight times in Grade 1 races, three times in the Lexus Chase, while his Cheltenham Festival endeavours included being second in both the RSA and the Ryanair Chase, and third in the Gold Cup.
It will be very interesting to see which of the top Irish yards Top Speed runs from in the future. Betting in on a stable based in the south-east and, given the manner of the four-year-old’s 15-length trouncing of the opposition on Sunday, he will be an exciting addition to any stable.
Bred by Arthur from the Presenting (Mtoto) mare Derrinlanna, Top Speed is an appropriately-named first winner for his sire Lucky Speed who stands at Michael Hickey’s Sunnyhill Stud.
That son of Silvano (Lomitas) won the Group 1 German before going on to show his ability on the world stage when he landed the Grade 3 American St Leger in record time.
The German Derby has an outstanding record for producing influential sires, and Lucky Speed was followed into the winner’s enclosure a year later by the Group 1 sire Sea The Moon. Previous winners of the race who have gone on to become sires of note makes for fascinating reading, and is well worth looking up.
Top Speed was sold by his breeder as a foal for €8,000 to Ryane Thoroughbreds, though he was to disappoint as a three-year-old at the Tattersalls Ireland May Sale when Luke Murphy acquired him for just €7,000. Luke was in the saddle for the gelding’s win at the weekend, and it is a safe bet that it is many multiples of €7,000 he made if he was sold on as rumoured this week.
Given that Top Speed’s Affinisea (Sea The Stars) colt foal in 2020 sold at Goffs for €23,000, it was a surprise that this year’s full-brother was unsold at a mere €3,500 at Fairyhouse. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise, given the potential displayed by Top Speed with his victory.
Derrinlanna was bought by Arthur in the name of his stud farm, Rottenhill, as a foal for €8,200. By the way, the stud gets its unusual name from the townland it is on. She won a bumper at the age of five when trained by Conor O’Dwyer, and two and a half years later added a win over hurdles in the care of Peter Fahey.
At stud Derrinlanna’s first produce was a filly, Cast In Grey (Fame And Glory), and she has been placed in bumpers and over hurdles. Top Speed is next and they are followed by the pair by Whytemount Stud’s Affinisea, while his year Derrinlanna visited Capri (Galileo). It is surely just a matter of time before Derrinlanna starts to do what the other dams in the family have done, and produce multiple winners.
Derrinlanna is one of five winners out of the unraced Banderole (Roselier), while that mare had four winning siblings. The best of these was the Grade 3 hurdle runner-up Sip Of Orange (Celtic Cone), and she in turn has gone on to breed four winners. However, none can match the record at stud of Top Speed’s fourth dam, the unplaced two-year-old Insouciante (No Worry).
Whatever she lacked in racing ability, Insouciante made up for in the breeding shed. All but one of her 14 foals made it to the races, and 10 of them were successful. The mare Innocent Choice (Deep Run) won nine times, twice landing the Listed Jack Duggan Memorial Hurdle at Gowran Park. Her half-brother went one better, literally, and won 10 races, but he was only placed in a number of stakes races on the flat.
Arthur Craigie has just two mares at Rottenhill Stud, and from them he has two very exciting racing prospects for the future. He is an example of the type of breeder who is the backbone of the Irish bloodstock industry, and it would be hugely rewarding to see these young horses go on to achieve greater success.