THE last-flight fall of Benie Des Dieux in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham left most punters silent but there were great scenes in the Glenview Lounge in Goatenbridge, Co Tipperary when Roksana came through to win the Grade 1 race.
Roksana was bred by the pub’s former landlord John O’Leary and a syndicate of the pub’s clientele used to race Roksana’s dam Talktothetail. Trained by Tim Doyle, that mare won seven races on the track before an injury forced her to be retired prematurely.
John took back the mare for breeding and Roksana was the final foal he sold out of her before he retired from breeding due to health problems. Former jockey Jimmy Mansell bought her privately from John and sold her on to Dan Skelton, who had success with Roksana’s half-brother Robinroe.
“I suppose the odds of breeding a Cheltenham winner would equal the odds of winning the Lotto,” the proud breeder told us this week. “To even have a runner was great and I was thrilled when I thought she might get second place. But, as they say, the hurdles are there to be jumped and she was the one who passed the post in front.”
It was a just reward for John’s 32 years breeding from three generations of the same family.
“I was exceptionally lucky to have the support of my friends that syndicated with me,” he said. “And I had great help from my family, in particular my son John, son-in-law Michael, my grandchildren and my good neighbours John and the late Tom.”
John was surprised to receive a phone call on Wednesday from Roksana’s owner Sarah Faulks, who revealed that Tuesday’s Grade 1 winner is an intended runner at Punchestown next month. Hopefully John and family will be there to cheer her on.