10 March 2017

Will you be attending the Cheltenham Festival? Have you got to be there for any of Altior’s big wins so far?

No, we’ll be watching Cheltenham in our sitting room with our family and a few locals. We’re based outside Portarlington and Altior (IRE) is a bit of a celebrity around here!

What has the experience of breeding Altior (IRE) meant to you?

People dream of breeding or racing a horse at the Cheltenham Festival and to have bred a horse that might go down in history as one of the all-time greats; it’s hard to wrap our heads around, it’s just surreal. To be relatively new to the game makes it even more special- we are pinching ourselves!

You bred and raced the dam of Altior (IRE), having bought her own dam for IRP£6,400. Did you ever dream this would be the end result?

The family had always been involved in racing- my sister is married to Tom Lacey and my brother Jack trained quite a few winners, but Monte Solaro (IRE) is my first mare. John bred her and when she foaled, he told me “I’ll eat my hat if this horse doesn’t win,” so when she went to the sales as a three-year-old, I told him I’d buy her if she didn’t make her reserve, which she didn’t. We sent her to Frank Flood and she won a Graded race at Tralee, which was brilliant.

Altior is by High Chaparral (IRE), a stallion better known for his flat progeny. What made you choose him?

We choose horses with speed and we didn’t spare any expense when it came to choosing stallions for Monte Solaro (IRE)- she visited High Chaparral (IRE) at a fee of €20,000 and returned to him another twice.

What is Altior’s dam due to foal this spring?

She’s currently in foal to Walk In The Park (IRE) and we expect her to foal by the end of the weekend. We always have her on plenty of supplements and she grazes on the best grass with our Shirley cattle. Only the best for her!

Have you kept any of her progeny?

We have her four-year-old Milan filly in training with Ross O’Sullivan, whose father used to ride out for my father. He’s very impressed by her and says she has plenty of gears- she makes everything look easy! We’re hoping that she’ll run in a bumper at the Irish Grand National Festival or the Punchestown Festival, but if the ground isn’t right, we’ve no problem waiting. She is the best foal that Monte Solaro (IRE) has ever produced, there’s no faulting her, so we’re very excited.

Has the success of Altior (IRE) made you want to expand your breeding operation?

We will keep any fillies Monte Solaro (IRE) produces, but we will focus on quality over quantity. We would like to have three to four mares of the same calibre. In this industry, if you can’t sell a filly out of a mare, she’s not worth having.

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