OWNER-breeders from every corner of the country have hailed the effect of the Weatherbys ITBA NH Fillies Bonus since its inception in 2014.

The €5,000 bonus has proven extremely popular and influential with owner-breeders keeping their mares in training for longer periods with a bonus up for grabs at various burgeoning stages of a mare’s career - in bumpers, hurdles and over fences. If your mare manages to win one, you have a double positive effect that she has increased her value as future broodmare.

Cork breeder Frank Motherway is a member of the ITBA council so was one of the instigators of the successful scheme. He finally won it with one of his own mares in Party Central last year.

“There is no doubt from the point of view of the trade for fillies, the bonus has been phenomenal that way,” he said. “Since its inception in 2014, well over €2.5 million has been given out and it’s made some difference. It is very evident in the store sales, not quite in the foal sales but it is evident at the same time.

“There’s more mares racing and winning and becoming more valuable, so from the point of view of residual value afterwards, people are beginning to notice now that it’s probably a safer bet to put a filly in training instead of a gelding because when they come to retire, and they have shown any sort of ability, they’re worth something whereas if you’ve a comparable gelding, he’s worth very little.

“I’ve seen numerous examples of people who have bought fillies and then sold them on at the end of their careers and used that money to go in again on another filly. You couldn’t do that with a gelding.”


Ed Coleman is another Cork native who has recently won a bonus, when his Stormalong stormed to an impressive mares’ bumper win at Mallow. The bonus was one incentive to go to the track with her and now he’s looking forward to a tilt at listed mares bumper with the mare now back in training with Ken Budds.

“It’s huge for the breeder like,” Coleman said. “When you win a bonus, it’s a like winning two races in one go and then you have the added bonus of improving your mare’s pedigree. My brother James won it and my neighbour Kevin Galvin alsowon it, so from just this area in just the last few months, there’s three of us after winning it. It’s huge for the fillies. It’s a big help.”

And while the bonus has been significant for smaller breeding operations like Coleman’s, it has also proven influential to the big players with Peter Molony, racing manager to Kenny Alexander, suggesting that the scheme has been one factor in influencing the Scottish native to have his horses trained in Ireland.

Molony explained: “It’s been a big help for us. With Kenny it has encouraged him to keep his string of mares in training in Ireland. We won one the other day with Brave Way, it was her second bonus, so it’s a great boost.

“We’ve won a nice few, Honeysuckle, Minella Melody, most of them have only won one because we haven’t had that many run over fences yet, but we’ve won a nice few.”

One key point that Motherway made was that there are plenty of people still not registering for the bonus and in some cases missing out on the €5,000.

“That is actually happening quite a bit,” he said. “There are plenty of fillies winning mares’ races that haven’t been registered and their owners are missing out on €5,000. I’d encourage any owner-breeder to get their mare into scheme before the closing date on September 30th.

The full details on how you can register are published below.

Get your applications in for 2023 scheme

NOW in its ninth year, the Weatherbys ITBA NH Fillies Scheme continues to grow from strength to strength with over €2.6 million paid out to winning connections. This year to date €235,000 has been paid out in bonuses and 2021 was the schemes’ most successful year to date with €495,000 distributed.

If you are a National Hunt breeder and owner and wish to make your filly eligible for the scheme, you can do so using the form on this page. The terms and conditions are as follows:

  • 3YO+ at time of entry
  • Unraced (under rules) at closing date 30th September, 2022
  • €200 to be paid to the ITBA before the closing date as above.
  • This is a once-off payment that makes your filly eligible for bonuses amounting to €15,000. Once entered, eligibility will start on 1st January, 2023.

    Fillies purchased at any Irish store sale will automatically be eligible once they are sold through the ring, with the vendor paying €50 at entry and the purchaser paying the additional €150 directly to the sales company. Fillies bought outside the ring or not sold will need to have the additional €150 paid to the ITBA before the closing date to ensure her eligibility. Owners of fillies not presented at store sales will pay €200 to the ITBA before the closing date.

    There are bonuses attached to every mares-only maiden race in Ireland: bumpers, maiden hurdles and beginners chases.

    In 2018, the scheme was extended to include a number of mares-only handicap hurdles for fillies that did not win their maiden. The scheme also supports the Connolly’s RED MILLS EBF Auction Race Series.

    The ITBA is grateful to Horse Racing Ireland and Weatherby’s Ireland for their continued sponsorship and Goffs, Tattersalls Ireland and The Irish Field for their continued support of this initiative. For further information on any aspect of the scheme, contact Una Tormey at ITBA on 045 877543 / 087 2995606 or email to utormey@itba.ie.

    Web: www.itba.ie.