PERHAPS the greatest effect of the fillies’ bonus and general improvement to the mares’ programme in this country is that it has facilitated small owner/breeders with an avenue to competing on the racecourse.
That filly that was viewed as too small to go to the sales or didn’t make the price her breeder was hoping for, now has a second option of going into training. Indeed, more and more breeders are willing to roll the dice on the track, because it has become more attractive to do so.
This was the case for Lorcan Higgins and few other close friends and family involved in his mare Lodilomoco, who didn’t make the sales but won on just her second start in a mares’ bumper at Wexford last month, and the dream has now come alive.
“She was a late foal and she just hadn’t developed enough for the sales,” Higgins explains. “She probably just wasn’t what the inspectors were looking for, the big point-to-point types, but all she has done is grown every day since and she is a big mare now, just over 16hh. We just decided to keep going with her.
“She ran well to be fourth on her debut and we fancied her at Wexford. She won well because she had to come around the whole field on the turn for home but she was able to quicken up by them.
“My father has been trying to get a winner on the track since he first had horses at 18 or 19. He’s had numerous point-to-point winners but never on the track so to get it at a local track and with Denis (Cullen, trainer), who has been a great family friend over the years, it was very nice. There is even a cousin of mine involved in the mare. It couldn’t have been a better evening.”
Higgins and his father are farriers by trade but now have five broodmares at home after developing their breeding operation over the last few years. They bought Lodilomoco, a name derived by the first two letters of all involved (Lorcan, his cousin Diarmuid, father Lorcan senior, three-year-old daughter Molly and nephew Conor), from breeder Timmy Nolan.
Lorcan had bought a filly called Kaloci from Nolan before and she went on to win twice for Stuart Edmunds in Britain, attaining blacktype. She is now one of the five broodmares back at base in Askamore, Co Wexford.
“Lodilomoco is a half-sister to Kaloci,” Higgins explains. “We’d know Timmy years and I just rang him up and asked if he had anything else out of the same family and luckily enough it worked out.
“We’ve five mares breeding and hopefully we’ll have five foals now for the November sales. We’ve always kept mares, this year will be the biggest crop we’ve had with five and we’ve got some nice ones there, including a Dandy Man mare who is a half sister to Happygolucky, who won a Grade 3 at Aintree.
“It’s only really starting to get going for us now. The aim is to sell first and if not, we’ll try and hold on to the filly and send them to be pre-trained by Robert Tector and then on to Denis. Hopefully Lodilomoco will come back here eventually and we’ll breed from her, but right now she might go to the listed bumper at Gowran in October and then we’re looking forward to seeing her over hurdles - we might get another bonus out of her.
“It’s a great scheme (the fillies’ bonus) and everyone at the ITBA does a great job. Before the scheme came along there was no incentive for a filly. A €5,000 bonus is a nice little sum to help you along the way, especially a small operation like we are.”