19 May 2017

You’re flying high at the moment, with Derryconnor breeze-up graduate Daban (IRE) finishing third in the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas at the start of the month and combined Derryconnor/Longways pinhook Le Brivido taking second in the colts’ French equivalent last weekend. This time last year, did you realise what you’d had on your hands?

Yes, as both their breezes suggested they had a lot of ability with very good attitudes. I find both are as important as each other in order to progress to the next level after winning a maiden, which can sometimes be won on ability alone. They need to want to get their head in front for you. Both horses were very laid back and found everything very easy. 


Their results on the track also raised the profile of breeze-up sales, which wouldn’t usually be considered a source of Classic prospects. Do you think the type of horse being sold as two-year-olds has changed in recent years?

Yes, purchasers aren’t just looking for the speedy five furlong two-year-old types anymore. Many look for progressive physicals and pedigrees. Some very shrewd vendors are investing more money in recent years which has increased the quality of individuals at the sales and results are proving this on the track. I’ve always been a fan of a seven furlong, balanced type of horse, rather than the five furlong type, but, more often than not, it has played to my disadvantage financially at the breeze-up sales. However, down the line, trainers are happy to have something progressive if they have the patience for it. 


One of the reasons for buyers associating breeze-ups with precocious speed alone is the growing importance of times at the sales. Do you think breeze times should be made official? 

I think official times would help give vendors and potential purchasers a solid indication of the value of their animal after the breeze. However, times aren’t everything. In my opinion, attitude, soundness and recommendations from vendors are also of particular importance. Another thing to consider is that some horses are very ground-dependant and I’ve had a few work ten pounds better on the surface they prefer compared to the surface they dislike. 


One of your graduates from this year’s sales already looks a Royal Ascot prospect after impressing on debut for William Haggas. You bought One Minute (IRE) for €39,000 at the Goffs Sportsman Sale, so she’s already looking a good value buy. What did you like about her?

She was even more value at the breeze ups for £52,000!! She was all there- strong, balanced, with a lot of quality and, most of all, very competitive in her work. She’s thankfully gone to a very shrewd trainer and she is most definitely one to look forward too! 


The Fast Company (IRE) filly you have selling at Goresbridge was also bought at the Sportsman Sale. Is she a similar type?

Yes, she’s a very smart type that will run mid-summer. She is a half-sister to three winners* from three runners with an average rating of 90!  

*NB- Half-sister Zaffinah (IRE) won a maiden at Santa Anita since the catalogue was printed. Her previous start saw her finish second to Palace Wind, who was third in a Grade 3 contest next time out.


Your Footstepsinthesand filly comes from a filly you’d know well, with your mother, Joanna, having trained her dam, Snap Alam (IRE), to win five times. Does she remind you of her dam?

She is very similar temperament and ability-wise. Snap Alam (IRE) was a good race filly for my mother winning five races and €50,000. She is bred by a very loyal ex-owner of my mother’s, Mr. John Farrell. A big supporter of getting me going also.


Moving on to the colts you have an offer, you consign horses by popular sires Lope De Vega (IRE), Zoffany (IRE) and Camacho. What can you tell us about them?

They are three very solid colts. The Zoffany (IRE) is a half-brother to three highly-rated horses. He’s a very nice seven furlong type of colt with a big future ahead of him. The Camacho is a big, scopey, well-balanced horse that will do a solid breeze and should win at the back-end of the season. The Lope de Vega (IRE) is also a back-end horse but his work at home suggests he’s going to be a very useful six/seven furlong type of horse. I have a very strong draft going to Goresbridge as, year-on-year; it produces good prices and even better racehorses! They do a great job, along with ITM, to get punters in and help the Irish bloodstock economy.


How important are pedigrees to you when selecting yearlings to breeze?

If a horse is by a bad stallion with no pedigree to resell I don’t care how nice he is, however if it’s by a good stallion but has a bad pedigree or, vice versa, bad stallion with a good pedigree, I will be open to anything. For example, Le Brivido (second in the French 2000 Guineas and second highest-rated colt in Europe at 121) was by a good stallion but out of a dam that never won and related to three national hunt horses in his pedigree!! Horses can often make the pedigree! 


What faults would you overlook and which would you not tolerate?

I can tolerate a lot of issues in front once the horse is well-balanced, especially to race. To pinhook, you obviously have to be more careful, as you need to buy a horse that potential purchasers can’t knock. A bad hind leg I cannot forgive; some would disagree but, for me, I need a strong, clean hind leg.


Who do you most admire as a judge of a horse?

There are too many judges to mention and not enough room on the page!! 


Has the success of your breeze-up horses, paired with your mother’s past career as a trainer, made you tempted to take up training?

I’d like to achieve as much as I can pin-hooking and be competitive amongst the top consigners at each sale. When I’ve achieved that, maybe then I’ll look for another challenge...  Who knows!!! 


View Goresbridge Breeze-Up catalogue here.

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