How did you get into racehorse
We always kept horses on the farm. My son Sean developed an interest in National Hunt racing and breeding and we decided to buy a foal that turned out to be Dangan Daylight. We had some great days on the track with her and it went from there.
What was your best day at the races and why?
Dangan Daylight winning her maiden hurdle in Clonmel. It was our first winner on the track and the excitement was electric. She then went on to place second in a Grade 2 and third in a Grade 3. She was trained by Colm Murphy in Wexford. There is no better feeling than seeing your horse running ahead of the field and crossing the finish line first. Tom Lombard once said to me, “celebrate the good days as there are plenty of bad ones”. No truer words of wisdom!
We tend to celebrate the good days as a family. We all get together along with close friends and neighbours and celebrate in style. It’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.
What is the biggest drawback about being a racehorse owner?
The dreaded phone call to say your horse has picked up an injury. Your hopes and dreams go from 100 to zero in a matter of seconds.
In your experience, which racecourse in Ireland treats owners the best and why?
We found Gowran Park, and of course Galway, really go above and beyond to give owners the most enjoyable experience. In general, racecourses look after the owners well. Every experience we have had has been positive. When you have a win it really doesn’t matter where you are.
Flat or jump racing, which do you prefer and why?
We breed from National Hunt mares and I find it very satisfactory to watch their progeny excel for their new owners on the track. My preference therefore has to be jump racing.
What qualities do you like in a trainer?
You need a trainer you can trust to get the best out of your horses. You can’t beat an honest assessment, good or bad. I have had great trust in Tom Lombard when he’s been tasked to pre-train horses for us; he has superb knowledge and will set you on the right path when starting out. Robert (Tyner), trainer of Dangan Des Champs, just tells you as it is which is what I value.
How do you think the cost-of-living crisis will impact on racing in general and on ownership in particular?
The current impact is going to put a lot more strain on the smaller owner and trainers. The increase in costs has doubled in the past year.
We still do not know if these will continue to rise. It is the uncertainty that’s most worrying. I can see the small owners and trainers squeezed out if something is not done.
What can trainers or HRI do to encourage owners to keep horses in training at the moment?
HRI and the ITBA are doing a superb job at allocating mares’ races to the programme. The fillies bonus scheme has been a big success. I would encourage them to continue this as we already see a big improvement in the sales of National Hunt fillies.
What significance do your colours hold?
My colours represent the secondary school my sons attended. At the time Eddie was in the Hogan Cup final with St Mary’s College Galway and we picked the red and black as a result.
When buying a horse what do you look for?
I leave all the buying to Cathy Grassick of Brian Grassick Bloodstock. She has bought some beautiful National Hunt mares in France for us at a reasonable value. She gives you 100% dedication when picking a horse and has a very good eye. We would often try and buy a nice filly foal at the sales to match up with one we may keep. Fresh bloodlines are a must when trying to compete in this market.
What horses do you currently have in training?
We have one mare in training, Dangan Des Champs. She gave us a great day out last week in Sligo when winning the handicap chase. Robert Tyner has done a superb job training her. She won a point-to-point last May but to get that win on the track was extra special.
What’s next on the agenda for your horses?
I leave the entire race planning up to Robert Tyner, no better man.
Have you any young horses to look
We have five National Hunt mares that we breed from here on the farm and we generally sell the progeny as foals. We have a couple of nice two-year-old horses at the moment, one by Getaway and one by Soldier Of Fortune.
We will make our minds up towards the end of the year on whether we race them or sell them at the store sales next summer. We have three lovely foals, a Blue Bresil filly out of a Martaline mare, a Nirvana Du Berlais colt out of an Authorized dam, and an Ocovango colt out of a Presenting mare, all of which are entered at the Tattersalls Ireland November NH Foal Sale under Sheridan House Stables. The market has been very strong the past couple of years and the store sales have been super. We hope it continues for the foal sales.
What do you do with your racehorses when there racing days are over?
We have only raced fillies or mares and all have come back to the farm as broodmares once they have finished their racing careers. I get great enjoyment watching the foals develop and seeing their mother’s traits breaking through. Bloodlines are the key to success.
What would help to make Irish racing more competitive for the smaller owners/trainer?
There should be a racing programme for trainers who have 20 or less horses retained in training at any one time. It widens the scope for the smaller trainer/owner that can’t afford to complete with the bigger establishments.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming a racehorse owner?
Surround yourself with an honest, genuine, trustworthy team; you will be relying on them from day one. We are very fortunate to have Frank O’Meara and Ita Sheridan here in the west of Ireland; you can pick up the phone and give them a call at any time for advice. We have a great team in place, from foaling, consigning, pre-training and training. It is a model that is working very well for us and without all these people it would not be possible.