P2P Q&A - Michael Hickey

30 October 2020

Michael Hickey800600

Sunnyhill Stud stallion Doyen had three P2P winners at the weekend, including a 4yo maiden double at Loughanmore with The Mean Queen (IRE) and Undersupervision (IRE). Tell us more about this stallion and his career at Sunnyhill.

He started here in 2012 so his oldest stock are 7yos. He’s doing really well with his horses on the track. He had a winner at Cheltenham on Saturday with Streets Of Doyen (IRE), Beacon Edge (IRE) won a G3 at Galway on Sunday, and Andy Dufresne (IRE) won his Beginners Chase at Wexford on Monday. All very good horses. He also had three P2P winners at the weekend, including two 4yo P2P winners on Sunday. He had the second in one of those races as well. Right through his career he’s had good 4yo P2P winners that have gone on to make a lot of money at the Sales. Battleoverdoyen (IRE) graduated from the P2P field and is a G1 winner over fences. Andy Dufresne won his P2P and made a lot of money. He won a G2 Novice Hurdle and had a high rating for his Beginners Chase too. It’s interesting to note that two of Doyen’s P2P winners from the weekend were mares. I thought Mary Doyle’s mare The Mean Queen was very impressive [video below].

You also stand German Derby winner Lucky Speed (IRE). What are his main attributes?

He has a wonderful pedigree. By Silvano who is by Lomitas, going back to Nijinsky in that line. His dam is by Monsun and she goes back to a very good mare in the third dam who bred Bellypha, a Champion stallion in France. He has two blacktype half-brothers that won over hurdles and on the Flat. He’s a good-looking horse, 16.2hh and very correct. He seems to be getting very good stock. He doesn’t have too many on the ground, but one made £35,000 in Doncaster. Another made €30,000 at the Land Rover Sale and will be in training with Gordon Elliott. Harry Fry has one by him, Colin Bowe has one, and there are others with good trainers for the spring too.

Sunnyhill is based at the heart of Irish racing near the Curragh. What is the history of the stud and how was it developed? 

We bought the farm in 1978 and stood our first stallion in 1979, a horse called Whistling Deer who was trained by Kevin Prendergast. The best stallions we have stood have been Good Thyne, Montelimar, Old Vic, and Doyen. Gamut (IRE) did well too. He sired Road To Riches (IRE) and Road To Respect (IRE), who were both G1 winners. It’s a family-run stud. We also do some clients’ foals and stock for the Sales. We pre-train a few when we can get suitable riders.

How do you choose your stallions?

To get mares you must have a G1 winner with a good pedigree. The better class of horse you can get, the more chance you have of getting better mares. You need the best performance record possible and you need a good-looking, big horse, with a good walk.

How has the stallion business changed?

It has changed a lot. Years ago you tended to build a client base and people would stick with you. These days people have to be more commercial. Also, stallions can be popular one week and not the next. That used to truer on the Flat, but now it’s the same with the jumping game. If you have a popular stallion this year and people are buying and selling his foals, in six months’ time, nobody might want to know. Starting off with a stallion, if they get good-looking foals, sell well at the Sales, get into good hands when they’re 3yos, and prove to be good racehorses then that’s a good start. But it’s all about these big blacktype winners now. A lot is geared around a Cheltenham winner, which is unfortunate because stallions can get a heap of winners, but they can’t all get winners at the Cheltenham Festival.

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All Irish point-to-point 4yo Maidens in 2020 will be available to view on the ITM YouTube channel. Subscribe here.

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