AS I pulled into the carpark at Gowran Park on Thursday for the Grade A Goffs Thyestes Chase, the car in front of me was driven by bloodstock agent Brendan Bashford. Eager to get in and see the upcoming race, I failed to engage Brendan in any small talk, and that may have been to my cost.
One of the reasons Brendan was presumably at the races was to see a horse he knew, Longhouse Poet (Yeats), run in the feature race. Not only did the Martin Brassil-trained eight-year-old run, but he won the race, his fourth success in just 12 career starts under rules.
Brendan is presumably familiar with the gelding’s breeder, as he signed for the son of Yeats (Sadler’s Wells) as a foal at €21,000 in Tattersalls Ireland. I say all this because Longhouse Poet was still in breeder John Duggan’s name and carrying his colours when he won his sole point-to-point at Boulta three years ago to the week. He was trained by Sam Curling and ridden by Derek O’Connor.
Appearing in the Mulryan colours, and in the care of his current trainer and with Derek O’Connor reunited, Longhouse Poet made his bumper debut just over three months later at the Punchestown Festival and landed the spoils by two and a half lengths from none other than Monkfish.
Sent hurdling, he showed a high-level of form and twice was placed in Grade 1 events won by Envoi Allen and Latest Exhibition.
In 2020 he opened his winning account over fences at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve, his fourth run over the larger obstacles, and then spent a year off the track before running at Limerick over Christmas. Success in the January feature in Gowran was not out of place and it will be interesting to see what he can go on to do next. There have been many notable winners of the Goffs Thyestes Chase over the years, including the Brassil-trained Numbersixvalverde.
Yeats stands at Castlehyde Stud and this year he will cover at a fee of €5,000. Twice champion stayer in Europe at the age of five and nine, his 15 career wins included seven Group 1 races. They included the Coronation Cup at Epsom, The Irish Field St Leger at the Curragh, and an unprecedented four consecutive victories in the Ascot Gold Cup.
Bred on the same Sadler’s Wells/Top Ville cross as classic sire, and sire of sires, Montjeu, Yeats’ top performers include Flooring Porter who won the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown for Gavin Cromwell, Chantry House who was winner of the Grade 1 Marsh Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham and Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree for Nicky Henderson, Shattered Love whose wins included the Grade 1 JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham and Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud, and Grade 1 hurdle winner Augusta Kate.
On the dam side of the family, the pedigree of Longhouse Poet looks light enough, until you realise that most generations have produced an above-average performer, and this has happened with few enough progeny. Let’s work backwards, starting with the fourth dam of the Thyestes winner, Keem Bay (Straight Deal).
She was foaled 61 years ago, and yet she makes the page in a sales catalogue. A winner as a three-year-old, she was then successful six times over hurdles. At stud she had just three foals, two of which ran and won. One of these was Little Bay (Little Buskins), a very popular runner up to the mid-1980s. He won 21 races, nine over hurdles and a dozen chases, and they included a couple of races that are now Grade 2s, and he loved it at Aintree where he won a few times. He was not far off the best speed chasers of his day and was runner-up in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
The second winner from Keem Bay was Mark-You-Ten (Raise You Ten) and three of her four wins were over hurdles. She, like her dam, had just three progeny, two of which raced and one of them was successful in a bumper.
Her sole offspring who failed to make it to the racecourse was Casualty Madame (Buckskin). She had only six foals, four raced and two were multiple winners. Best of the victorious duo was the Grade 2 winning chaser Well Presented (Presenting) and this Jessica Harrington-trained gelding failed by a length to win a Grade 1 novice chase at Leopardstown.
Casualty Madame is therefore the grandam of Longhouse Poet, through her daughter Moscow Madame (Moscow Society). The latter mare went to post nine times, three bumpers and six hurdle races, and, not wishing to be cruel, she was useless. However, her lack of racing ability was not passed on and four of her seven runners have won, three on the racecourse (all are multiple winners) and one in a point-to-point.
With three of the first four dams producing a blacktype winner from limited opportunities, there is much to like about the pedigree of Longhouse Poet – and there may well be another big day or more in the offing.