Thursday 21 September 2017

Lady gives us classic dream

It was more in hope than expectation that I travelled to Leopardstown last Sunday. I'd never had a runner in a Group Three before, but we were anxious to gain a bit of black type for Ballybacka Lady's pedigree in the 1,000 Guineas Trial.

Lo and behold, she won. Ballybacka Lady had form with many of the better fillies last year, so I knew she had it in her. Still, the manner of her triumph surprised me. I was amazed she was able to kick clear and stay so strongly to the line. What's more, Fran Berry said she was looking around in front and had plenty more to give if he needed it.

All roads lead to The Curragh now for next weekend's Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas, our one big target since last year.

Ballybacka Lady finished second to both Banimpire and Zaminast last summer, so when the time came to enter for the 1,000 Guineas on September 1, we put her in.

It's hard to believe, but I bought this filly as a yearling for €18,000 in 2009. That's small money for a Classic contender, but, at least, we can dream now.

The plan had been to try and get a filly with a decent pedigree to have a go with, so we are still living the dream. Hopefully, she'll get some good, fast ground at The Curragh next week.

If we get that, and she goes there without any problems, I'd be very confident that she'll run a serious race.

Thankfully, when I checked Ballybacka Lady over on Monday morning she was fine and it's fair to say there have been a lot of happy people around our yard near Leighlinbridge this week. JJ Fitzmaurice rides the filly out every morning.

He had been saying all along that she was in great shape and that she'd run well on Sunday, so he was delighted to be proved so right. Everyone feels like they've achieved something.

My wife, Natalie, who could be out on the yard all night with one if there is ever a problem, feels the same sense of satisfaction. It has definitely been an easy week.

Natalie wouldn't be one for all the finery of the Flat, but she'll go racing with the filly on Sunday week, and I'm sure she'll enjoy her day at The Curragh. I will too -- although I might have to dust off an old suit for the day!

With two runs under her belt, Ballybacka Lady has most of her work done for the 1,000 Guineas now and it's nice to be able to go there without any pressure.

Obviously, the race itself brings a certain amount of pressure because it is a big occasion, but there is none coming from any other corner.

bonus

We have already achieved more than we set out to with this filly, so everything that she does from now on will be a bonus. We'd have been happy to run in the Guineas if she had finished in the first three at Leopardstown -- that's all we were hoping for.

As it is, she has already made our summer. We're a yard that always mixes Flat and National Hunt, but I wouldn't have that many others to run over the next few months.

While our operation is only a small one in the greater scheme of things, we've been around for some time and whatever I have, I train. That's about the size of it.

I know that when Ballybacka Lady jumps from the stalls next week, she'll have to take on the game's superpowers. Once the ground is right, though, she'll give it a fair rattle.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie

Irish Independent

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