DAMIAN Nolan is a good man to have in your racehorse ownership syndicate.
Based in France, Damian has a happy knack of dropping in to see his horses run on the right day. His most recent flying visit saw him take in racing at Roscommon where Kestrel Prince, in which he has a share, was making its racecourse debut.
The Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Maiden looked an open race beforehand and so it proved with the first four finishers flashing past the post together. Damien was sure Kestrel Prince had just been beaten but the angle from the grandstand at Roscommon is notoriously deceptive and there was great celebration when Kestrel Prince was called the winner.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be home for a good few winners,” admitted Damian this week. No doubt his fellow shareholders in Gaelic Thoroughbreds will be jetting him in for all future engagements!
Asked how he got involved in ownership, the Mullingar man explained: “I had a horse or two with other trainers but about 10 years ago I called Ger Lyons out of the blue and told him I’d like to get involved. My first horse with Ger was actually ‘second-hand’. Palazzone was already in the yard and the owner wanted to move him on. He won a Dundalk nursery for me and was placed twice in Dubai.”
After that good start, Damian continued to have “two or three” in his own name with Ger each season. “Then Ger introduced me to David Spratt, who had come into the yard and was setting up a syndicate of like-minded owners who would pool together their resources and have a wider spread of horses together rather than just their own.”
Gaelic Thoroughbreds was born and it got off to a flyer in its first season last year. “Our best horse was Would Be King who ended up running in the Irish 2000 Guineas last month. He had beaten the Guineas winner Romanised on his previous start but, on the day, he didn’t perform to his best.”
In keeping with Ger Lyons’ strategy, the syndicate buy stock to race at two and three years. The stable wouldn’t be known for its older runners, although it has won plenty of stakes races with the likes of Brendan Brackan. Damian says: “We have a gentleman’s agreement that we will consider any offers we receive but I’m primarily involved to have days out and to win races, with the hope of financing the next batch of yearlings.”
Kestrel Prince was a €42,000 purchase at Tattersalls Ireland and the syndicate have no plans to offload him. “Another attraction for me is being part of the whole team. Visiting the yard on a work morning is a special treat.”
Without claiming to be an expert on the programme book, Damian can see the attraction of the Foran Equine-sponsored auction maiden series. “Auction maidens are in our minds when we buy yearlings. It’s difficult enough to win any race, so it helps if you can avoid the Galileos. Also, Kestrel Prince is now qualified for a €120,000 final at Naas in October.”
Kestrel Prince might well be the type to run well in that final, which was won last year by €8,000 purchase Yulong Gold Fairy. Gaelic Thoroughbreds also have a nice Kodicac filly named Queen Medb, a Holy Roman Emperor colt named Juniors Dream and a Morpheus colt named Dreamboat Dave to look forward to.
But before you back them you might want to check if Damian is in the parade ring. He’s on a roll.