IF the racing authorities ever wanted an example of a successful syndicate they need look no further than It’s All About The Girls.
Set up by Elaine ‘Legs’ Lawlor of Goffs and based on a winning formula imported from Australia, the syndicate pulled together a group of women from within and outside the sport who were prepared to invest a modest sum. Their only expectation was a few good days at the races together.
However, the ladies have struck gold at the first attempt. Bloodstock agent Patrick Cooper takes up the story: “They wanted a female trainer and Jessica Harrington was the obvious choice. As I have had some luck buying inexpensive winners for Jessie, I was given the task of finding two fillies for them at the Orby Sale.”
Patrick’s eye landed on a Dragon Pulse filly (€25,000) from the Irish National Stud and a daughter of Sepoy (€40,000) consigned by John Tuthill’s Owenstown Stud.
The former was named Chicas Amigas (Spanish for girlfriends) and made a winning debut at Dundalk in May. It got even better when she nabbed second place in a listed race at Naas on her next run and this justified a trip to Royal Ascot, where she finished in the top half of the Albany Stakes field.
It’s worth considering how many lifelong racehorse owners dream of having an Ascot runner and never get there.
If that wasn’t enough good fortune for the syndicate, along came the Sepoy filly, now named Sparkle’n’joy, and she won the Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Maiden at Naas two weeks ago.
In fact she bolted up by almost three lengths, eased down, and Patrick thinks this one is even better than Chicas Amigas. “She took a couple of runs for the penny to drop but she is improving now,” he says. Both fillies are sprinters and there are not a lot of opportunities for them at the moment. “There’s a shortage of listed races over five and six furlongs for fillies,” commented Patrick.
“All the good races coming up are over seven furlongs. Chicas Amigas could end up running in the [Group 3] Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood, and we might wait and see what handicap mark ‘Sparkle’ gets.”
Patrick is a huge supporter of auction races, a claim he can back up with some fairly convincing evidence. As manager of Cristina Patino’s racing interests, Patrick famously put Snow Fairy through the ring as a yearling, the Intikhab filly attracting little attention as she was bought back for a mere €1,800.
And she duly won an auction maiden on favourable terms as a two-year-old, though subsequent events suggest that the six-time Group 1 winner did not need all the help.
“Auction races are a big help to everyone operating below the Ballydoyle level in this country,” he says. “I think the latest series was Joe Foley’s idea but Foran Equine and the Irish EBF have given it great backing. We’ve won quite a few of them. We [Cooper family] finished second in the Final the first year  with Cloistered and we had a runner in the Final again last year.”
He says both Chicas Amigas and Sparkle’n’joy could end up in the €120,000 Final at Naas on October 21st, even if the seven-furlong trip is not ideal. “For that money it can’t be ignored. I make it a priority to get any two-year-old I’m involved in eligible for auction races, but I might struggle with Snow Fairy’s Frankel colt!”