WHEN you are settling down to watch the racing at Down Royal this afternoon, raise a glass to the thoroughbred breeders in the northern region who would normally be having a great day at the races, saluting those breeders who produced a top racehorse in the past 12 months.
There may not be an awards lunch this year but that won’t matter too much to the eight breeders who recently took delivery of a framed photograph of their award-winning racehorses from the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association.
The Irish Field put in a call to some of the winners this week.
Max Ervine’s award for breeding Wichita was bittersweet, the talented colt having suffered a fatal injury in Australia recently. “It was very sad news, just one of those things,” he said. Second in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, Wichita is the third Group 1 runner-up bred by Max, following Insatiable and Galeota.
Looking ahead, he reported: “I still have Wichita’s dam and she has a very nice filly foal by U S Navy Flag, who I will keep for the yearling sales.”
Max is based six miles from Downpatrick and the area around that racecourse is also home to award winners Colin Kennedy and Thomas Foy.
Colin, who bred the multiple winner Chatez, has his mares based in Meadowlands Stud, the farm which was owned by Colin’s uncle Brian, who passed away in June.
He is taking 11 foals to the Tattersalls December Sale and they include an Expert Eye colt, a Kodiac filly, an Acclamation filly and a colt by Havana Grey.
Thomas Foy spent 50 years milking cows at his farm outside Downpatrick and he enjoyed watching Pogo, which he bred, run some great races this season including when winning a listed race and finishing second in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes.
Cute, dam of Pogo, was bought by Thomas for 16,000gns and she has a yearling colt by Estidhkaar and a colt foal by Kodiac. “She will have her options next year,” said Thomas, whose son Declan is based at Ballylinch Stud and helps out at home, along with siblings Ronan and Aideen.
The Foys have five mares at Grangecam Stud, including one National Hunt mare who is in foal to Jukebox Jury.
Ann and Thomas Kirkwood from Crossgar, Co Down, bred the filly Jeremy’s Flame who is a winner over hurdles and was second to males in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown last season. Their son Nigel has followed the mare everywhere and was at Sandown that day as the family are friends with the owners.
The Kirkwoods also bred Kinburn, who won four races over jumps about 15 years ago. Watch out for their Milan colt foal (Lot 151) their Glebe Farm is offering at the Tattersalls Ireland November National Hunt Sale. “He is bred on the same cross as McFabulous,” reports Nigel.
Aaron Metcalfe is best known as the breeder of dual Cheltenham Festival Grade 1 winner Weapon’s Amnesty and enhanced his reputation as a producer of staying chasers last season when both Slate House and Ravenhill did him proud.
Usually the dams of these top staying chasers have either been retired, sold or have died by the time their progeny hit their peak, but Aaron still has Slate House’s dam Bay Pearl. “I have to thank veterinary surgeon Howard Whelan for saving her last winter when she had a bad bout of laminitis. She survived and is in foal to Milan. She also has a two-year-old Soldier Of Fortune filly and a Flemensfirth colt foal.”
Award winners 2019-‘20
Grade 1 National Hunt winners
• A Wave Of The Sea (Born To Sea-Je T’Adore). Bred by John Yarr
• Battleoverdoyen (Doyen-Battleover). Bred by Berry Farms
• Slate House (Presenting-Bay Pearl). Bred by Aaron Metcalfe
Cheltenham Festival Winner
• Ravenhill (Winged Love-Rhythm Hill). Bred by Aaron Metcalfe
National Hunt Filly
• Jeremy’s Flame (Jeremy-Supreme Beneficial). Bred by Ann Kirkwood
• Wichita (No Nay Never-Lumiere Noir). Bred by Max Ervine
Three-Year-Old Winner (2019)
• Pogo (Zebedee-Cute). Bred by Thomas Foy
• Chatez (Dandy Man-Glory Days). Bred by Colin Kennedy
• Legendary Lunch (Dragon Pulse-Taalluf). Bred by Johnston King