“THE last horse they had with me couldn’t run a message!”
They were the words of trainer Patrick Prendergast to the press after Red Persian won a Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Maiden at Leopardstown in June.
The colt’s two Dublin owners could afford to laugh at their previous misfortune, having just pocketed close to €30,000 with Red Persian, a €5,000 purchase. The Leopardstown prize money was over €18,000 and the horse was eligible for a Plus 10 Bonus of almost €10,000.
“They sent me a horse last year who was perfectly sound but let’s just say he had limited ability,” Patrick recalled this week. “We found him a good home in a riding school.”
The two owners, Gary and Mark, were unsure about getting involved again but decided to “go for a cheap one” when Patrick told them about the Haatef yearling he had purchased at the Goffs Sportsman’s Sale.
“He was an early enough type and the two lads came racing on their own the first day Red Persian ran,” Patrick remembers. That turned out to be the now famous Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Maiden won by Beckford at the Curragh. Red Persian finished second – earning a handy €5,000 – in a race which has produced a slew of winners.
Patrick says the number of people in the parade ring has grown each day Red Persian has run since then. He again finished second in another race in the series next time out at Fairyhouse behind Whitefountainfairy (subsequently sold for£300,000 and now Group 3 placed), before winning on his third career start at Leopardstown.
“The plan was to go for these races,” admits Patrick. “Usually cheap horses are at a disadvantage in maidens but we knew Red Persian would have a generous weight allowance in these races [Foran Equine Irish EBF series] as he was such a cheap horse. We’d always look to exploit any advantage that was going.”
Red Persian has more than paid for himself and his training fees at this stage and there should be more good days ahead for his owners. He ran in a nursery at Naas on Wednesday and is still engaged in the final of the series at Naas next weekend. “He’s got a little bit sharper with racing and I’d prefer if the final was over six furlongs rather than seven.”
Looking ahead, Patrick says he bought a yearling filly at the recent Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale. “She was a bargain price and will be aimed at the series next year.”
Unlike some recent owners and trainers featured in this column, Patrick has no problem with the series being open to horses which cost as much as €75,000. “You could argue that maybe some of the races should have a lower cap, but I think they should cater for as many horses as possible. The series is an ideal way of bringing in more owners at an affordable level who have a very good chance of covering their expenses.”
Even if your horse fails to win a maiden, there may be a buyer for them. “There is great respect for Irish maiden form and trade is good,” says Patrick. “Horses who are placed or even run well are very saleable.”
If not, Patrick knows a good riding school!