Three County Wexford people are in equine heaven after a horse they own won the $6.2 million Melbourne Cup in Australia.
New Ross brothers Walter and Robert Power and Ballygarret native Fergie Doyle are the owners of Protectionist, the four-year old German-trained stallion which romped to triumphant success last week.
Walter and Robert, sons of well-known farmer and horse breeder Ned Power of Dunmain, Gusserane, couldn't contain their excitement when the horse stormed past the post, ridden by English jockey Ryan Moore.
Father-of-five Walter leapt over the fence to get closer to the animal. 'I can't put into words what this means for us,' he said.
'It's a dream come true. I've been in Australia for 25 years and all I've ever wanted to do was to have a horse in the Melbourne Cup. To win it....I can't believe it.'
The 100,000 spectators included Walter's children ranging in age from 19 to eight who took the day off school and college to attend the race along with other family members including Robert's twin sister Breda who also lives in Sydney and her husband Danny, a native of Carlow, Walter's wife Catherine and Robert's wife Anne, also from Carlow.
Back home in Dunmain their parents Ned and Cis got up in the middle of the night to witness the excitement on television while Wexford-based brother Michael and his family also caught it on TV in their home a mile and a half away.
'We got up at 2am to watch some of the build-up because Walter had another horse running in the race before the Melbourne Cup which also won,' said Ned who attended the famous race meeting himself during a visit to Australia a few years ago.
He was unable to travel this time because of a recent ankle operation but he was there in spirit.
'We were so excited we couldn't believe it even though we had a good idea he might win because he was one of the favourites and the boys were pretty confident. They were on the phone straight away afterwards,' said Ned.
'We'll definitely go next year, added the former FBD insurance official who has had many horses in training down through the decades with last year's four-time winner Ned's Indian being one of his most recent successes.
Fergie Doyle has enjoyed a 30-year association with horse-racing in Australia. 'It's a fantastic thing for us,' said the Ballygarrett man who recently recovered from serious illness.
Mr. Doyle and his wife Delia have been involved in business in Australia for many years and are well-known in the Sydney Irish community. They own the Cat and Fiddle pub in Balmain.
The Power brothers who run a successful civil engineering company in Sydney called Dunmain Pty Ltd, bought a percentage share of the German-bred Protectionist, a son of Monsun, earlier this summer as part of a deal brokered by Australian Bloodstock directors Jamie Lovett and Luke Murrell.
Along with Fergie Doyle, they now have full ownership of the horse which was bred and formerly owned by Dr. Christoph Berglar, a German industrialist who retained part-ownership until last week.
Walter first saw Perfectonist last July when he flew to Frankfurt from Ireland during a month-long visit to Wexford with his Campile-born wife Catherine and their children,and he encouraged Robert and Fergie Doyle to get involved.
After the Melbourne Cup win, Robert told racing reporters: 'Wally came back from Germany and said this is the most fantastic animal he had ever seen and he was right.'
The horse trained by Andreas Wohler was shipped to Australia and ran under his new colours for the first time in October.
Protectionist last raced in Europe in the Group 2 Prix Kergorlay in France earlier this year, winning in the colours of his former owner Berglar. A horse owned by Wally came second in the same race.
Protectionist's winning form in Europe saw him start at odds of 7/1 in the Melbourne Cup under the experienced whip of Moore, described by Fergie Doyle as 'the best jockey in the world'.
The Power brothers grew up around horses and during his secondary school days, Robert (45) was one of a four-man team including Aidan O'Brien who won an inter-college horse-riding championships for Good Counsel College in New Ross. Walter who will celebrate his 50th birthday in November, formerly played rugby with New Ross and New South Wales.
At one stage all five Power siblings lived in Australia for a year including Nuala who now works with Lake Region in New Ross. Michael who works with FBD and Robert were the first to emigrate as school-leavers in the mid-1980s. Robert worked at various jobs and eventually set up his own business after saving up to buy a digger.
Robert and Walter now own one of the top civil engineering companies in Sydney which has been responsible for major projects including all the electrical work in the Olympic Arena.