IF things had gone to plan, Copper Nation wouldn’t be running in the listed mares’ bumper at Navan tomorrow for Donal Coffey and his family.
The Westerner mare, bred by Coffey’s daughter Paula and her husband Pat Mulcahy, had won her four-year-old mares’ point-to-point at Dromahane in taking style and was set to be sold in Doncaster last August. But things don’t always go to plan in racing.
“We just decided that with Covid and everything, it just wasn’t worth the hassle,” Pat Mulcahy explains. “This is a family-run operation and if someone got knocked out over it, it just wouldn’t be worth the hassle.
“In any case, Paula rides her out and she always felt, even before she even ran in the point-to-point, that she could win a bumper. We went to Tipperary for the mares’ bumper she won because of the mares’ bonus. It is a mighty bonus to win for fillies.”
Copper Nation was game at Tipperary. On just her second ever start, she led the way, faced challengers on either side in the straight but kept pulling out more and she was in control at the line.
She could have made a pretty penny at the sales. Irish four-year-old point-to-point winners are the hottest commodities in town these days, but fate has it that she remains with the Coffeys and the dream is alive at Navan tomorrow.
“Hopefully she’ll run, we’ll check the ground on Sunday morning,” Mulcahy says. “When she comes home from running in a race, even when she came home after running that evening in Tipperary, she was knocking down the door to get fed. She has a great attitude, when she goes out to the gallops, she wants to get the job done, get back and get fed!”
The Coffey family are synonymous with breeding and racing in Midleton, Co Cork. It all goes back to Copper Supreme, whom Mulcahy’s father-in-law Donal Coffey bought and raced.
“It’s great to see the lines coming up everywhere. Presenting Copper was the first foal from Copper Supreme. She won five races for Philip Hobbs and she’s after breeding blacktype fillies – Copper Kay and Which One Is Which, and most recently a nice horse with Olly Murphy called Copperless.
“On a different line, there was a nice Westerner mare with Tim Vaughan called Copper Gone West. Unfortunately she got fatally injured at the Festival last year when she was actually travelling very well in the Pertemps Final.
“Copper Gone West was a big reason we took the dam of Copper Nation to Westerner because it was after clicking already.
“We actually have a half brother of Copper Nation, by Wings Of Eagles, and he’s in the Goffs December National Hunt Sale (lot 680). We’re very hopeful about him.”
And it’s not just the Copper Supreme line that is coming up now because just this month, Family Business was another winner in the red and green silks, winning her mares’ maiden hurdle at Tipperary, acquiring another €5,000 Weatherbys ITBA Mares Bonus for the Coffeys in the process.
“I actually bred her myself,” Mulcahy explains. “She was out of a mare that I bought at the sales called Dianame.
“She was a great mare with a great temperament and a great attitude. Family business is kind of the same, she’s a real sweetheart of a mare and she’ll win a few more races.”
Mulcahy is predominantly a dairy farmer in Killeagh, 11 miles from Midleton. He and his brother always had a few broodmares down the years, mostly it was a nice distraction from the cattle.
“Breeding would have always been my main interest,” he explains. “Paula was always into the racing so it kicked on from there. Paula goes in every morning and rides out with her father. Basically she is the only one riding out all week and at the weekends her nephew James is around and he might spend a day or two with her.
“Paula’s brother Seamus broke Copper Nation during the lockdown of last year and she went on to win the point-to-point and progressed from there. She was always a grand foal deal with. She had her own little quirky ways but she had a great attitude. It’s great to see her progressing along and for us to win a couple of bonuses is a very big deal.”
And now the dream is alive.
“We’re a small operation with three or four mares,” Mulcahy adds. “It’s huge for us to be beating the bigger yards on a given day. The programme for mares these days is fantastic. Fillies were a non-runner 10 years ago but now you have the likes of Benie Des Dieux selling for €350,000 there last week.
“That’s the type of mare we’d dream about – we’re no different to the young jockeys dreaming about becoming the next Rachael Blackmore or Paul Townend.”