ONE of the most impressive mares’ bumper winners of the spring came at Cork last month when Mozzies Sister bolted in by 14 lengths on her first start under rules, and the Punchestown Festival is now calling for the five-year-old and her enthusiastic Co Waterford connections.

There was a real air of quality about the Arctic Cosmos mare’s wide-margin success under Maxine O’Sullivan, not having to be fully extended by any means, and it also resulted in an additional €7,500 cheque for connections as part of the increased Weatherbys ITBA National Hunt Fillies Bonus Scheme.

Since the beginning of the year, Irish-bred winners of bonus races now earn €7,500 (up from €5,000) if that mare is winning her first bonus race.

Previously trained by Ciaran Fennessy when brought down on her debut between the flags at Lisronagh in February 2023, the Andrew Pierce-bred youngster won a mares’ maiden point-to-point for Queally and the For The Love Of It Syndicate by 12 lengths on her return in January.

Her bumper victory as 10/11 favourite came as little surprise to the shrewd Co Waterford yard.

“We bought her off Ciaran in early December after he had recommended her,” Declan Queally Jr told The Irish Field.

“She’s worked really well from the day she came. This mare is owned by a group of farmers from west Waterford. The syndicate is headed up by Pat O’Donovan and they are a great bunch of owners.

“They just bought this mare to basically have some good days out. The lads tend to go off on a bus and have a few drinks at the races - they enjoy it and it’s nice that this mare has been able to get off to a good start.”

Festival aim

The Queally family got on the scoresheet at the 2019 Punchestown Festival when Cloudy Morning landed a €50,000 staying handicap chase, and rattled the crossbar at the same meeting last year with bumper second Williethebuilder. Another bold bid with Mozzies Sister in the Grade 3 Weatherbys General Stud Book Irish EBF Mares Bumper (registered as the Liss A Paoraigh Bumper) on May 1st would be music to the ears of the For The Love Of It Syndicate.

Queally Jr said: “We had her entered for the Grade 2 Nickel Coin Mares’ Bumper at Aintree this week but Punchestown on the Wednesday looks like the plan for her instead. The lads are looking forward to that, having a Festival runner like her in a nice bumper.

“She’ll have one more run for this season at Punchestown and we’ll leave her off then. After that, we’ll be aiming for a nice hurdling campaign and hoping to get a snippet or two of blacktype with her. Fingers crossed she’ll be good enough to do that.”

Queally’s phone will surely have been ringing with interested potential buyers after Mozzies Sister’s latest runaway success, but it looks as though she will be remaining with her current connections and has not been sold.

“I’d say the owners will be happy to keep her,” said Queally Jr.

“They love racing, follow it closely and having a nice horse would mean more to them than selling her. Hopefully we’ll be able to get some more good days out of her.

Bonus benefits

“Even if she went on to win her maiden hurdle afterwards, those ITBA bonuses are brilliant because they get back so much money towards the price tag and help to pay the training fees. It’s a brilliant incentive and one I’m always looking out for.

“For me, if an owner was thinking of buying a horse now I’d steer him down the filly road because you can actually get a season’s training fees in some cases for winning a bonus race. We’ve had plenty of fillies enjoy a bit of luck with this scheme; the likes of The Getaway Star, Western Victory, Uisce Solas, Natural Look and so on. We love it.”

He added: “I think the bonus has helped people to take a chance on putting a filly in training. If the breeder is at the sales and not getting the roughly €10,000 they want for their filly, they can always chance going into training and exploring the bonus route. That scheme incentivises you to take the gamble and the new €7,500 bonus for your first win with an Irish-bred is fantastic.

“It’s great for the smaller trainers and we get horses on the strength of this series from other breeders around the country. Any push from this scheme is a help for everyone.”