Saturday night saw The Breeders Crown Finals night of 2018 take place at Tir Prince Raceway and it was a night to remember. After all of the mediterranean weather we have had over the last few months it was typical that the weather chose to break on the Friday and Saturday of this weekend and it probably cost us a hundred or so people on the gate but nonetheless a very decent crowd was in attendance to watch the drama unfold. One thing that did benefit from the rainfall on the Friday evening and Saturday afternoon was the track, having been baked for the past few months the deluge did it no harm whatsoever, whilst the strong wind in the back straight prevented us from breaking any track records.
The concept of The Breeders Crown is that it is for horses bred in The UK and Ireland with the condition being that The Stallion must be stood or their semen must be available by AI on either of these shores and be nominated into the Breeders Crown. As we go into 2018 there are 19 Stallions nominated and the brain child of David Wilson who has over 60 years experience in harness racing is going from strength to strength. David speaks passionately about the necessity for continued improvement of the breeding in The UK and Ireland and he has firm belief that in order for harness racing in the UK to take a step up to the next level then its the breeding that is the key.
On to the action there were sixteen three year old fillies nominated so they were split into 2 heats of eight earlier in the day with horses being separated in the heats for trainers with duplicate entries. In the first heat Wellfield Witch was the bookmakers favourite and she didn’t hang about leading from number three on the gate and recording fractions of 28.5 for the opening quarter and 58.8 to the half. The way the draw had fell meant that this had been seen as the weaker of the two heats so one always felt that this bunch would struggle to keep up the early pace and so it proved Wellfield Witch tried to hold on gamely as she reached the three quarter pole in 1.30.5 but she was starting to look like she was there to be shot at and Isabella Camden came out of the pack and looked all over the winner until Mike Mahoney swept up on the outside to win nonchalantly aboard Lyons Attack in a time of 2.02.9. This filly is a daughter of Lyons Danny the resident stallion at The Lyons Stud owned by The Lyons Mound family. His career was curtailed by injury but he was so highly thought of by the family that they took the decision to export him to The UK to stand at stud. Given the resources and horses at their disposal the fact that he was chosen to come to these shores is a tip in itself as to how good they think he is and he is definitely producing winners. The mare is Lyons Ace High and she is a daughter of Lyons Sharai proving that this dynasty of winners looks set to continue.
In heat two Robyn Camden had drawn badly in number 8 but the bookmakers still had her in at 2/5 favourite it’s fair to say that if she’d have drawn anywhere between 1 and 3 she would have been 1/10. Ayr Empress is a very talented filly and she led out clocking an opening quarter of 28.2 and getting to the half mile in 58.9 meanwhile Robyn Camden had been taken to the back of the field from her wide draw and had approximately 30 lengths to make up. Jonathan Dunne started to make some progress as they turned for home first time around and then he really hit the button in the back straight but as they hit the quarter pole Ayr Empress was holding onto the lead “she’s beat” I heard a voice say behind me “don’t worry JD will have saved some for coming home ” I replied and so it proved as a couple of taps in the home straight saw her pull to the front to prevail by 2 lengths in a time of 1.59.7 .Robyn Camden is by Art Professor the fastest Stallion to stand in the UK and Ireland with a 1.47.4 record this is a serious horse and we are privileged to have him available to us. The mare is Keystone Havoc who is the dam of Keystone Horatio a horse with a 1.48 record so whilst Robyn Camden is referred to so often as a freak her breeding tells you that actually whilst she is absolutely sublime she’s not a freak as she’s quite simply bred to be this good.
In The 4 Year Old Colts and Geldings track record holder Rhyds Rockstar was understandably very hot favourite and he didn’t disappoint. Father Ted tried to make a fist of it but Rockstar was not to be messed with as he held the challenger off recording a time of 27.7 for the first quarter and 58.7 for the half mile he was a joy to watch as he hit the three quarter pole in 1.27.3 and for a brief moment I thought the track record could go despite the blowy conditions but the as he turned for home disaster almost struck he seemed to take a false step and make a break the crowd gasped but James Haythornwaite to his credit got him together and pacing quickly and he crossed the line time of 1.59 to win by 3 lengths. Rhyds Rockstar is a son of the legendary Hasty Hall the resident stallion at The Rhyds Stud who has produced a plethora of winners since the inception of The Breeders Crown and he is out of Tonda Star who herself has produced more champion colts than can be mentioned in this article.
The 4 Year Old mares saw yet another stallion hit the winners board with Born To Run a daughter of Kikikolt the Meadowbranch Stables Stallion who won The Crock Of Gold Final getting up to beat Rhyds Mystique in a time of 2.00. The race itself was very exciting as Lee Rix tried to lead all the way aboard Olivia Camden, Rhyds Mystique laid it down to her in the back straight and she eventually got to the front as they passed the three quarter pole but Born To Run came out of the pack to lay it down to the leader in the straight and she got up to win by half a length under a strong James Haythornwaite drive. Born To Run is out if Judy Hall a multiple race winner here in the UK and was bred by the very shrewd Richard Walker.
The 3 Year Old Colts and Geldings has been billed as a showdown between the two stars of the Laidler stable Matticulous and Merrington Moveinup but it appears that the internet must have been down in Ireland this week as no one had told Patrick Kane or Jonathan Dunne! Matticulous drew 1 and was expected to lead out but Patrick Kane was having none of this as he shot to the front aboard Stakes On The Pan and once he got there he was in no mood to give it up as he held Matticulous in a time of 30.01 in the face of a what was now a very strong sea breeze. Matticulous was now parked out wide whilst Teddy Camden was getting a nice trip in behind the two of them on the rail. The front two went hammer and nails in the back straight and it looked like Matticulous was eventually going to grind down his very game and very worthy opponent he got passed him in the straight only for Jonathan Dunne to come off the rail on Peekaboo style to nail the pair of them with Teddy Camden! The time of 2.01.6 didn’t do the race justice as it was a great race with a thrilling finish, Merrington Moveinup struggled to get involved from his draw of number 6 and I for one am already looking forward to seeing this bunch race again hopefully on The VDM weekend in Dublin. Teddy Camden is a first group one winner for Stonebridge Galaxy another of The Camden Studs fine band of Stallions this fella has a 1.49.5 record and the performance of Teddy Camden should see him in demand in next years breeding season. Meanwhile the mare is So Hip It Hurts dam of VDM Winner Camden Tino so Teddy really is bred to be ready.
The two year old fillies saw The Mocking Jay start as favourite this filly showed great ability when finishing runner up to Oakwood Star Cam and then when winning the heat of The Breeders Crown at the track earlier in the year and she proved to be too good on this occasion for the very game Newtown Jody. The story of the race saw Marc Jones lead out on The Mocking Jay from number 3 on the gate and she never relinquished her lead recording fractions of 29.9, 1.03.2, 1.32.6, winning by three and a half lengths in a time of 2.02.7. Newtown Jody impressed in second and for a short time turning for home it looked as though she might prevail in the end I think it was The Mocking Jays experience around Tir Prince’s big sweeping bends and running into the harsh sea breeze that was the difference and I’m definitely relishing the possibility of a rematch between these two at The VDM. The Mocking Jay is by Rogue Hall who is owned by The Coalford Stud and this stallions record for winners is very good as he boasts Free For All horse Coalford Tetrick amongst his progeny. The mare is the now legendary Apopka Denise dam of Wexford Beach, Infinity, and Jessies Conquest amongst other multiple winners.
The two year old colts was a very tight affair on paper but those who had seen Oakwood Inittowinit’s performance when finishing second in the heat would have known that things just never worked out for him that night and with a better trip he would have a great chance of winning. Christy Camden who was his nemesis in that heat led out and he hit the quarter pole in 30.6 as they reached the half Andrew Cairns tried to produce Shadowcaster to challenge but Christy Camden was in no mood to give up the top spot as Rocker dictated the pace from the front. Meanwhile in behind Richard Haythorwaite had Oakwood Initowinit travelling nicely and was keeping out of the way of trouble, Shadowcaster began to fall away as they approached the turn for home and then Richard made his move putting the race to bed in the first few yards of the home straight eventually winning by 3 lengths in a time of 2.04.3. Oakwood Inittowinit is by Foreclosure resident stallion at The Oakwood Stud. His success in North America from very limited mares before he was exported to Ireland has been very well publicised but from six two year olds on the track from his first crop in the UK and Ireland he has now produced a double group one winner along with several other winners so the signs are that he brought his speed gene with him when he crossed the Atlantic and we look set to see a lot more of his progeny competing at the top table over the coming years. His dam is Abbey One a mare who has produced winners of over $1.5 Million so as David Wilson says “Its all about the breeding”.
The 3 Year Old Fillies final had been left to the top of bill and Robyn Camden didn’t disappoint as she simply blew them away in a time of 1.59.1 She idled briefly turning for home but a couple of taps saw her win easily by 5 lengths from Lyons Attack in second making it a double for the Camden Stud in the 3 Year Old events. There is strong talk that this will be Robyn Camden’s last start as she scheduled to go to New York to race at Yonkers. If that’s what transpires then I would like to wish her and her connections well and say thanks for the memories its been a real privilege to watch you race and always win at Tir Prince Raceway.
So that’s The Breeders Crown done for another year apologies about the length of the article and please bare in mind that I haven’t yet had the benefit of seeing the video so If I haven’t mentioned a horse that ran well then I’m doing this from memory. Thanks for everyone who attended, and to David Wilson and Jacqui Mann for being so easy to work with. Watch this space for details of the Silver Finals to be run on Saturday 18th August.