The former headmaster at St Kieran’s College, Michael Darmody had a day to remember at the Curragh on Sunday when he won a five day trip for two to the Melbourne Cup in November.
A native of Crobally near Lukeswell, Michel is now based close to Bennetsbridge and has been a regular racegoer all his life. The competition, which was sponsored by The Victoria Racing Club in conjunction with the Curragh racecourse, asked readers to answer a particular question.
The winners were drawn from a hat and assigned at random a horse in the Irish St Leger. Darmody was assigned the Dermot Weld runner Voleuse de Coeurs which spreadeagled the field to record a six length victory.
A great raconteur, Darmody has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the racing and breeding industry. He has written many articles on the subject.
The St Leger is our oldest Classic and was formally the centrepiece of the Autumn racing programme. It is a true test of stamina, but due to a lack of interest by breeders who see it commercially unviable it was opened to older horses years ago.
This has been the saving of the race. Amazingly there were no 3-year-olds in the field. Weld, who provided the winner for the seventh time saddled two fillies. Stable jockey Pat Smullen opted for Pale Mimosa but after being prominent to beyond the halfway point she faded in the straight.
In contrast, Voleuse De Coeurs was dropped out early on by jockey Chris Hayes. She made eye catching progress on the run to the home straight and drew steadily clear to win unchallenged by six lengths from the favourite Ahzeemah.
For a filly that opened her account in a Wexford maiden, the winner has come on in leaps and bounds. Staying is her game. Weld reported that he expects her to turn into a serious cup mare next term. She was a fifth Group 1 winner for her sire Teofilo, who was trained by Jim Bolger and stands at the nearby Kildangan Stud.
This was the second leg of a double for the winning rider. Earlier he captured the mile Listed Flame Of Tara Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, courtesy of Avenue Gabriel.
In what turned out to be rough and tumble contest, Avenue Gabriel had to overcome a troubled passage before swooping late to land the spoils by a neck from Ballybacka Queen. Dazzling from the Aidan O’Brien yard was a disappointing favourite.
She travelled well enough but when a gap appeared two furlongs out she failed. She was subsequently pushed sideways but was beaten at the time. The jury is out on her capabilities.
Winning trainer Paul Deegan told me that his charge is tough. He will consult with the owner lady O’Reilly before making further plans. Indicated are that the Fillies Mile at Newmarket and the Prix Marcel Boussac are under consideration.
A feature of the recent sales has been the demand for the progeny of the sire War Front. He was responsible for Guerre which made a winning debut in the opening six furlong juvenile maiden for the Aidan O’Brien stable. Guerre went to post warm favourite.
After tracking the leaders he came for his race a furlong or so out and in spite of coming off a straight line had enough in hand to see off the challenge of Atlantic Sea by three parts of a length. This was a smart display by a clearly useful colt.
It will be interesting to see where he features in the plans of the Ballydoyle maestro who seems to have an abundance of juvenile talent at his disposal.
Not for the first time the Group1 National Stakes over seven furlongs for 2-year-olds went for export when Toormore comfortably out-pointed the David Wachman runner, Sudirman in the hands of Richard Hughes. Trained by Richard Hannon, Toormore was undefeated in his two previous starts and punters sent his off a warm favourite. Hughes elected to make it a true run race by sending his mount into the lead from the from of the flag.
Sudirman, who was free early on, tried to go with him from the halfway point but was always fighting a losing battle. Toormore comfortably held his challenge by two and three quarter lengths.
An inexpensive yearling by present day standards, Toormore is by the six time winner Arakan who stands at Joe Foley’s Ballyhane Stud near Leighlinbridge. He was purchased by Peter Doyle who buys so many of the Hannon inmates. Arakan was lucky for the trainer previously. He was the sire of Dick Turpin.