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Fiesolana continues great success for Curragh based trainers in 2013

October 13, 2013

Curragh-Based Trainers Success In 2013

2013 has been another successful season for Curragh-based trainers at all levels. Classic success, Group 1 victories, multiple Group winners and numerous premier handicap victories, not to mention an array of memorable wins in the National Hunt sphere, Curragh-based trainers continue to punch above their weight on the domestic and international stages.

And why wouldn’t they? The Curragh Training Grounds have over 70 miles of immaculately-maintained grass gallops, 12 miles of peat gallops and eight all-weather tracks (two made up of a sand and fibre mix, one surfaced with polytrack, and five that are woodchip-based ) available to work on, allowing trainers to get precisely the type and amount of work into their charges that they wish.

One of the headline successes for Curragh-based trainers in 2013 was undoubtedly that of the Dermot Weld-trained Voleuse De Coeurs in the Gain Irish St Leger at the Curragh. Weld brought the four-year-old along steadily throughout the season and delivered her to her main target in wonderful condition, with the daughter of Teofilo bolting up by six lengths under Chris Hayes to add another Classic victory to the long list of Group 1 successes achieved from Rosewell House.

In terms of domestic Group 1 races, there were no more popular victories than that of the Kevin Prendergast-trained La Collina in the Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Matron Stakes on Irish Champion Stakes day at Leopardstown. At the age of 80 and having taken out his license to train in 1963, Prendergast is very much the elder statesman of the training ranks and indeed a patriarchal figure amongst Curragh trainers. The emotional reception which greeted La Collina’s success at Leopardstown was indicative of the regard that Prendergast is held in within Irish racing. It was also a particularly memorable victory for Chris Hayes, who has worked for Prendergast since his days as an apprentice jockey, as it was the first Group 1 success of his career.

From the longest-serving member of the Curragh training ranks to one of its latest additions, top-class jockey Johnny Murtagh took out his license to train in 2013 from his yard on the edge of the Curragh and he wasted no time in making an impact. He saddled over a dozen winners during the course of the season including Belle De Crecy in the Group 2 Lanwades Stud Blandford Stakes at the Curragh and former Irish St Leger winner Royal Diamond to get the better of the aforementioned Voleuse De Coeurs in the Group 3 Gain Irish St Leger Trial Stakes at the Curragh. Murtagh looks sure to fly the Curragh flag high for many seasons to come.

One of the success stories of the entire Irish Flat season was that of Curragh-based trainer Willie McCreery. In what was his sixth season with a trainer’s licence, 2013 represented a break-out season for the former Kildare football star. Without doubt his star performer was Fiesolana, with the four-year-old French import being transformed by her switch to McCreery’s care on the Curragh. Having started the season rated 93, she quickly won the valuable Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund “Habitat” Handicap at the Curragh prior to winning no less than three Group 3 contests, namely the Ballyogan Stakes at Leopardstown, the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Brownstown Stakes at Fairyhouse and the Coolmore Stud Fairy Bridge Stakes at Tipperary, and the Group 2 Dubai Challenge Stakes at Newmarket. The cherry on top of his season was the sending of Hurryupharriet over to Ayr to win the Listed Harry Rosebury Stakes in September.

Another Curragh-based trainer that enjoyed a memorable campaign was Paul Deegan. The former assistant trainer to Mick Channon has shown a great ability to find value at the sales and 2013 saw him enjoy success with more of his bargain buys. The pick of them was perhaps Sruthan, a €1,000 yearling purchase that proved himself to be a high-class performer, winning the Listed Power EBF Tetrarch Stakes at the Curragh and the Group 3 Coolmore Stud Home Of Champions Concorde Stakes. He also enjoyed notable success with his juveniles, saddling the €5,000 yearling purchase Avenue Gabriel to win the Listed Flame Of Tara European Breeders Fund Stakes at the Curragh and the Jaber Abdullah-owned Shining Emerald to bolt up in the Listed Anglesey Lodge Equine Hospital Blenheim Stakes at the Curragh.

In terms of National Hunt success for Curragh-based trainers, the highlight was perhaps the extremely impressive success of the Dessie Hughes-trained Our Conor in the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. The son of Jeremy has started his career for Hughes on the Flat, but really took off once being sent hurdling, going unbeaten through the 2012/13 season culminating in his scintillating 15 lengths victory at the Mecca of National Hunt racing in March. The four-year-old looks to have every chance of emulating his stable mate Hardy Eustace who Hughes saddled to become the last Curragh-based winner of the Champion Hurdle in 2005.

Dessie Hughes also sent out some high-profile winners over fences in 2013, with Tofino Bay snatching the Grade 2 Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase at Naas in January White Star Line gaining a memorable win in the valuable Guinness Kerry National Handicap Chase at Listowel in September.

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