New foal and Cheltenham delight on same day for Laois breeder

Paddy Behan with his mare Monte Solaro. Photo: Alf Harvey
Paddy Behan with his mare Monte Solaro. Photo: Alf Harvey

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It was a case of double delight for Laois farmer Paddy 'Whacker' Behan last week as Altior scooted home in Cheltenham's Arkle Chase and his dam Monte Solaro (pictured with Paddy) gave birth to a half sister on the same day.

The rising star of the National Hunt circuit, Altior was bred by the Behans at their base in Tierhogar near Portarlington, but is now owned in England by Patricia Pugh and trained by Nicky Henderson.

"We were all in the sun room at home watching Altior win. The shouting and roaring was something awful," Paddy said.

"He's a lovely horse but he didn't seem to like the sticky ground at Cheltenham," Paddy told the Farming Independent this week.

But no sooner had the Altior excitement subsided than Monte Solaro went into equine labour and Paddy, along with his son Paddy Jnr, were to the breeding shed for the evening.

"Monte gave birth at just two minutes to midnight and everything went well. She's a lovely filly and was no bother. She was out in the field on Wednesday with her mother and they were playing around," Paddy said.

The new arrival is by Coolmore sire Walk In The Park, who stands at the Grange Stud. "I'll have to go down now to the Grange Stud and hand over my €8,000 in stud fees. There's an awful lot of tenners in €8,000 for a small farmer," Paddy joked.

The Behans run a one-mare stud at their former tillage farm in Tierhogar and the mare has been remarkable family servant.

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"Who would have thought we would be cheering home a Cheltenham winner this week," he remarked.

Apart from being the mother of Altior, Monte is the dam of Melior, who is currently being trained by Ross O'Sullivan and is expected to make her racecourse bow at the upcoming Punchestown festival.

This much-anticipated debut should boost the value of the Monte Solaro bloodline further and certainly increase the sale price of the new foal well beyond that €8,000 stud fee.

"The new filly is really nice but the wife Rose and the boys want to keep the ladies and sell the lads so that we can keep the bloodline going," Paddy explained. "If it was a colt that arrived last Tuesday night, it would be worth some money but we won't be selling it even though I keep telling the boys that I am a poor farmer who is getting older," Paddy added.

"But if someone was to put a big offer in your face…" Paddy continued off family script.

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