88-year-old Kevin Prendergast trained the first winner at The Curragh yesterday. A 28/1 boilover. Cecilia Clementine, a daughter of Zoffany who cost €119,000 as a yearling, owned by John Magnier, David Wachman and Mrs Paul Shanahan – in other words, the Coolmore gang.
Cecilia Clementine was in fact the daughter of the artist Johann Zoffany, and after her surprise victory, jockey Chris Hayes said “We’ll bring her back in the Spring and hopefully get a bit of black type”. Thus indicating that her octogenarian handler has no intention of hanging the binoculars up anytime soon. More luck to him. As I know from my own dad, when they get to that age – or beyond – what they know is what keeps them going.
Hayes and Gary Halpin ride most of his horses nowadays. Both products of the master’s hand at Friarstown. Though lately I’ve noticed 10-pound-claimer Jessica O’Gorman getting her chance. The latest project, no doubt. Following on from the two lads above as well as the others like Declan McDonogh, Rory Cleary, Padraig Beggy, Sammy-Jo Bell, Sam James and probably a list stretching the length of The with them.
In one way it should be no surprise that Kevin and Jim Bolger are pals. Both with decades of mileage on the clock. Two trainers who were readying young jockeys before the admittedly wonderful RACE Academy was a pea-sized embryo in someone’s brain. The pair watch Cheltenham together every year, but I don’t know if Kevin is much of a hurling fan. It would be hard to imagine Jim going out game shooting, mind you!
Whatever about that, as was amply demonstrated at Doncaster a couple of weeks ago, JSB obviously intends trying to match his contemporary in keeping going if judged by the victory of MacSwiney in the Futurity Stakes. Add to that, then, Kevin Manning partnering his 1,600th winner today at Naas in the opening maiden before adding another in the season-ending maiden.
As if to fit in with the wonderful diverse stories which often crop up in racing, while Prendergast was working his magic at the home of Irish Flat racing, on the same card, young Cillian McConnell registered his first success aboard one of his father’s representatives. For his part, McConnell Snr has just had a breakthrough season in the training ranks and with his own young lad and Ashbourne’s Siobhan Ruteledge steering plenty of his steeds, expect that profile continue in the ascend.
Chris Hayes went on to complete a double on the plains of Kildare prior to heading towards the Cooley Mountains. Prior to heading northward, he opined in an interview that his boss’s horse in the last was probably his best chance of adding to his day’s tally. Things didn’t work out in that regard, but, even if it had, by day’s end it would still be a case of the stars of tomorrow stealing the show from elder statesmen who’d hogged the headlines earlier in the day.
What better way could there be for Champion Apprentice Gavin Ryan to mark his coronation than by booting home a treble. Never was it envisaged the following would be uttered from these lips, but, no sooner has this turf campaign concluded than the next is eagerly looked forward to.
Perhaps, mind you, the Christmas Day Coolcullen update is anticipated most like it hasn’t been for a good few years.