Racecourse Successes

The impossible dream comes true … Cheltenham 2017

Over the years we have sold almost 2,000 horses at auction, realising nearly 50 million euros for their owners. Every one was important to us leading up to the sale and each received the best preparation we could give them. Some inevitably disappointed their new owners; many others did pretty well; but a select few achieved far more than anyone could have hoped for. Here are six of the very best graduates of The Ballincurrig Talent School for NH Racehorses.

SIZING JOHN (GB), b. g. 2010 by Midnight Legend – La Perrotine by Northern Crystal

Sizing John jumps the last fence in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup ahead of his frequent rival Djakadam.

We sold Sizing John on behalf of Bryan & Sandra Mayoh for 16,000 euros to John Bleahen at the Tattersalls November Sale in 2010. In an outstanding Jumps career he became the first (and so far only) horse to win the ‘Gold Cup triple’ of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Irish Gold Cup and the Punchestown Gold Cup in the same season, immediately after being switched to race over three miles as a 7YO. He later won the John Durkan ‘Chase (Grade 1) over 2.5 miles, having previously taken the Grade 1 Paddy Power Novice Hurdle as a 5YO and placed in seven other Grade 1 races, including the Arkle Trophy and Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham. He was trained by Jessica Harrington and Henry de Bromhead for Ann & Alan Potts.

CAPTAIN CHRIS (IRE), b. g. 2004 by King’s Theatre – Function Dream by Strong Gale

Captain Chris leads Finnian’s Rainbow at the final fence before taking the Arkle Trophy in 2011.

Until 2018 Captain Chris was the most expensive store we had sold when, on behalf of Lennie Walker, he brought 250,000 from Aiden Murphy at the Derby Sales of 2007. He hadn’t been the easiest horse to prep and the price was a relief since Lennie had paid 66,000 euros for him as a foal. However, he was worth every penny for he went on to win three Grade 1 events: the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham, Punchestown’s Ryanair Chase and (on his very last appearance) the Ascot Chase. Although his best distance was probably 2.5 miles he also finished only a neck behind Long Run in an epic King George V Chase at Kempton. He was trained by Philip Hobbs and owned by Diana Whateley.

PAISLEY PARK (IRE), b. g. 2012, by Oscar – Presenting Shares by Presenting

Paisley Park leads old rival Sam Spinner at the last hurdle in Cheltenham’s 2018 Stayers Hurdle

Paisley Park was a 12,500 euro Richard Rohan pinhook as a foal who brought 60,000 euros from Gerry Hogan as a 3YO, after some Ballytrasna / Ballincurrig TLC. He won only one of his first five races (although second in a Grade 2 Novice Hurdle), then transformed into by far the best 3 mile hurdler around. In a magical 15 months he won all seven of his races, giving Emma Lavelle her first Grade 1 win in the Ascot Hurdle before following up in the Stayers Hurdle (G1), two Cleve Hurdles (G2) and the Newbury Long Distance Hurdle (also G2). His run ended when he suffered atrial fibrillation in his attempt at a Stayers Hurdle double. He is trained by Emma Lavelle and owned by Andrew Gemmell.

SOMERSBY (IRE), b.g. by Second Empire – Back To Roost by Presenting

Somersby, unlucky to race in a golden era of two mile chasers

Being by Second Empire, an unsuccessful Flat stallion from a Presenting mare who produced him in the days before people realised just what a great broodmare sire he is, Somersby brought only 8,800 euros as a foal, from Muckinish Stud. However, having been bought privately he earned 100 times more than this and proved himself one of the best two mile chasers in the era dominated by Sprinter Sacre, Master Minded, Sire de Grugy, Sizing Europe and Dodging Bullets – poor timing! He won one Grade 1 race, the Ascot Chase, but placed in the first four in no fewer than 14 others, including twice in the Two Mile Champion Chase. He was trained by Henrietta Knight and Mick Channon, and owned by Tim Radford.

ON HIS OWN (IRE), b. g. 2004, by Presenting – Shuil Na Mhuire by Roselier

On His Own (left) is narrowly – and unluckily – beaten by Lord Windermere in the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

We might have gone down as the vendor of a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner three years before it actually happened, if only the Stewards had held an inquiry after On His Own’s short head defeat by Lord Windermere in 2012 – an ironic result since Michael Moore had helped source the latter from the Point-to-Point field. On His Own was bumped at the second last and then carried right by the winner over the last half furlong, losing by a very short head! Nine times out of ten the result would surely have been reversed. As a yearling On His Own brought 38,000 euros from Kevin O’Brien; after winning a Point-to-Point and a Bumper his price rose to £240,000. For Willie Mullins he won two Thyestes Chases (Grade A), a Grade 2 hurdle plus Grade 2 and Grade 3 chases – but the best day of his life was also the unluckiest. He was owned by Andrea & Graham Wylie.

HI CLOY (IRE), b. g. 1997, by Be My Native -Thomastown Girl by Tekoah

Hi Cloy with trainer Michael Hourigan and jockey Andrew McNamara after taking one of his three Grade 1 chase wins in the 2005/06 season.

We consigned Hi Cloy as a yearling when he brought 14,000 IRE Guineas from Michael Hourigan, the man who trained him throughout his career. His Grade 1 wins began in 2004 when he took the Powers Gold Cup Chase (beating next year’s Gold Cup winner Kicking King); but his best season was that of 2005/06 when he he won three more: the John Durkan Chase, the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase and Liverpool’s Melling Chase. He also placed in three other Grade 1 chases, the best being a third behind War of Attrition and Beef Or Salmon in the Punchestown Gold Cup. All of Hi Cloy’s Grade 1 victories were hard-fought and he never really attracted the attention a top-class horse normally does – but few manage to win four such contests. In this he ranks second to Sizing John among Ballincurrig alumni. He was owned by Mrs S. McCloy.