05 February 2018

To breed one champion is the achievement of a lifetime, and to breed two in close succession inconceivable. But for Marie and Paul McCartan’s Ballyphilip Stud, that became a reality last month, as their homebred HARRY ANGEL (IRE) was awarded top sprint honours in the Longines World Best Racehorse Ratings, closely followed by another Ballyphilip-bred in BATTAASH (IRE). ITM spoke to Paul and Marie to learn more about their secrets to success and what horses we have to look forward to this season.

You must be thrilled to see Harry Angel (IRE) and Battaash (IRE) crowned the World’s Best Sprinters in the recent Longines World Rankings. They both had incredible seasons, but it must be nice to have it confirmed in ratings?

When Tiggy Wiggy (IRE) was crowned Champion Two-Year-Old in 2014, she also topped the world rankings and we told the kids to enjoy her success as it was unlikely to ever happen us again!   So to produce the two top-rated sprinters in the world three years later is simply beyond belief.


Ireland has a growing reputation as a source for top-class sprinters. What do you think sets Irish-bred sprinters apart?

To be honest, I believe Ireland produces world-class horses in all divisions, from five furlong specialists to staying chasers, and indeed showjumpers and sport horses.  I think what sets Irish horses apart is their soundness in mind, as well as limb, this being derived from great land and good rearing by the best horsemen and women.


Did both Harry Angel (IRE) and Battaash (IRE) have a star appeal from the beginning in your eyes? How did they strike you in their early days?

Both are bay sons of Dark Angel (IRE) and they had a lot of similarities; ‘Harry’ was a big strong colt with huge power in the mould of an old-fashioned sprinter, while Battaash (IRE) had a more athletic walk and a slightly quirkier personality


Do you still have their dams and what progeny do we have to look forward to?

We still have Anna Law (IRE) and she had a beautiful  Dark Angel (IRE) filly at the end of January. Her Gutaifan (IRE) yearling filly is very athletic and may be sold in the autumn or retained to race in our colours.  We sold Beatrix Potter (IRE) to China Horse Club and she is in foal to Dark Angel (IRE), so hopefully she will be as lucky for them as she was for us.  Her Cappello Sansevero yearling colt will be offered for sale later this year.


How many broodmares do you have in total? Are there others you expect to produce the next superstar?

We keep 13 mares of our own. Though we wouldn’t presume to expect to breed anymore superstars, we think a lot of Our Joy (IRE),  a Kodiac half-sister to Beatrix Potter (IRE), and we also have a half-sister to Tiggy Wiggy (IRE), who is in foal to Kodi Bear (IRE).  Mystery Bet (IRE) is another mare we like a lot.


Is it a conscious decision to produce sprinters? If so, why?

The decision to concentrate on breeding sprinters was really borne from a desire for financial survival when we started out.  That is what the market wanted, so that's what we endeavoured to produce. We felt comfortable in this niche, and so, have stuck with it.


What would you say to those who look upon sprinters in bloodstock as ‘cheap speed’, etc? As there has been some criticism on the growing demand for precocious juveniles.

I have never really understood the phrase ‘cheap speed’.  Is Usain Bolt any less of an athlete than Mo Farah?  To me, there is room for everybody.  We are a small farm so it makes sense for us to target one area.  There are many examples of Irish farms who excel in producing milers and middle distance horses.


Harry Angel (IRE) and Battaash (IRE) were both produced from a Dark Angel (IRE) cover costing €12,500. What other Irish stallions do you see as good value? 



Who do you think will be top first season sire in 2018? 

We bought foals by No Nay Never, so I guess that answers that question


Paul and Marie, you both gained masses of experience before setting up Ballyphilip Stud. If you could each choose the most important lesson learnt during those times, what would they be?

It’s all about the horse!  When breeding, the individuals must be selected carefully and then very close attention must be given to the rearing of the resulting progeny.


Give us a horse to follow in 2018.

Fly Dubai (IRE), a two-year-old colt out of Starfly (IRE), in training with Clive Cox. (Fly Dubai (IRE) topped the 2017 Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale)

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