Constant renewal leads to State Of Rest

With an exciting new stallion due to retire at the end of the season, Daragh O’Conchuir talks to Niamh Woods of Rathbarry and Glenview Studs about their recent successes and their never-ending search for suitable sires    

Catherine Cashman, Niamh Woods and Paul Cashman of Rathbarry and Glenview Studs

Catherine Cashman, Niamh Woods and Paul Cashman of Rathbarry and Glenview Studs

Even by the lofty standards of Rathbarry and Glenview Studs, the past couple of months have been quite something. Cheltenham and Punchestown triumphs for Blue Bresil, Shirocco and Sholokhov; the Hong Kong Derby/QEII Cup double of Romantic Warrior for Acclamation; Kodi Bear’s Group 2-winning juvenile Go Bears Go strolling to Group success on his seasonal debut at Ascot, and first-season sire James Garfield’s maiden 2yo winner.

Then along comes the recent announcement that State Of Rest would be moving to East Cork at the conclusion of his racing career this year. The announcement was made five days after the Joseph O’Brien-trained globetrotter made it a third consecutive Group/Grade 1 on three continents by adding France’s Prix Ganay to last year’s Saratoga Derby and Cox Plate victories in America and Australia respectively.

There have been many challenges to the thoroughbred industry since Paul Cashman Snr. snapped up 135 acres of limestone-enriched soil in Towermore Lower between Conna and Castlelyons, just outside Fermoy, and stood Royal Pom, but as his son Liam, Liam’s wife Catherine and their children Paul and Niamh have picked up the baton, the fortunes of Rathbarry and Glenview in both flat and National Hunt spheres have continued to blossom.

After the success of Perspex, Pitpan and Proverb, Paul’s son, Liam, ambitiously branched out into the flat sphere, hitting paydirt immediately as Kampala was crowned Leading First Crop Sire in 1984, siring the Arc winner of 1988, Tony Bin, soon afterwards. Taufan and his son Tagula were also Champion freshmen sires for Rathbarry.

The jumps side of the operation also continued to thrive and so, in 1991, Glenview was established to focus exclusively on that sector, with Strong Gale, Good Thyne and Phardante accumulating winners at a dizzying rate. Then Robin Des Champs and Presenting emerged to become Champion NH Sires, the latter triumphant on four occasions, with Gold Cup heroes War Of Attrition and Denman standing tall among his illustrious stock. Though he died four and a half years ago at the age of 25, Presenting is still making his presence felt, finishing in the top 10 of leading NH sires in Britain and Ireland in terms of winners in the season just concluded.

Back at Rathbarry, Acclamation became the daddy, as it were, providing quality and quantity long after his coronation as Champion First Crop Sire. He is now a proven sire of sires and a leading broodmare sire. His offspring are continuing to flourish at the highest level on the track, with 14 individual black-type performers in 2021 alone.

Liam passed away in 2010 but Catherine remains a staunch presence at the wheel, whilst Paul and Niamh are key management cogs now too. As experienced as they all are in the trade, there was no hiding Niamh’s excitement about what had unfolded in the past six weeks or so, starting with the acquisition of State Of Rest.

“Paul had always kept an eye on him and quite liked him,” Niamh explained, who has long since become Mrs Woods by virtue of her marriage to former top NH jockey Franny, himself a vital member of the Rathbarry team.

“He went with an agent to see him in Joseph’s last year and loved him to bits. He’d a great attitude and is a very good-looking horse. From there, he had a look at his pedigree, his race record and he was going from strength to strength. So he approached the previous owner and thankfully all went well.”

O’Brien had made no bones about targeting the major northern hemisphere prizes with the son of Starspangledbanner this term before an end-of-year farewell in Australia, the land of his racing owners Newgate Stud.

Barring calamity, State Of Rest will cross the £2.3m threshold on his next engagement and should he be victorious in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh prior to a tilt at the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, he will be part of a very select cohort to have won consecutive Group 1s in four different countries – if not indeed setting a new record by so doing.

Already a Gr.1 winner on three continents, State Of Rest will be hoping to add to this tally by the time he retires to Rathbarry at the end of the season

Already a Gr.1 winner on three continents, State Of Rest will be hoping to add to this tally by the time he retires to Rathbarry at the end of the season

“He did so well in America and Australia but for us it was very important that he do something here in Europe. To win on his first run of the season was mind-blowing to be honest with you. Franny was driving and I was watching it on the phone going mental in the car!”

It evokes memories of the shrewd capture of Barathea by Liam prior to the horse’s memorable Breeders’ Cup Mile. Spotting a considerable upside is vital when there isn’t a limitless budget and having State Of Rest tied down at the start of the season looks shrewd business.

Acclamation isn’t going anywhere yet though. At the time of Romantic Warrior’s QEII success, his progeny had won 20 races from just 28 attempts in Hong Kong. “We cover two a day with him and he’s going great guns, thank God. His fertility is good and so is his libido. He has been so consistent and has been such a wonderful horse for us and obviously for all the shareholders too.

“Corduff Stud (David and Henrietta Egan, who bred Romantic Warrior) have been great supporters of Acclamation down through the years and have always sent mares to him. And they were well rewarded in the sales ring. It was great for Mick Kinane too, who bought the horse. When you see what he’s done and how consistent he’s been in taking the training down there, it’s a remarkable feat.”

Aclaim is the latest of his progeny to begin making noises as stallions in their own right, while Expert Eye is off the mark in his freshman campaign, the pair following in the footsteps of Dark Angel and Mehmas as commensurate winner producers in their own right. Meanwhile, last season, Acclamation’s daughters were responsible for seven individual winners of thirteen Stakes races, among them the remarkably consistent Broome and Point Lonsdale.

“His mares are proving to be as good as his colts really. A lot of his good looks are in the stock and you could say the toughness is coming through in their progeny as well. And he is a cross for everything. When you look at the likes of Sadler’s Wells and Galileo and what they’ve achieved, we have our own one now in Acclamation which is fantastic. Dad would have been extremely proud.”

Kodi Bear is on his third crop of two-year-olds, having enjoyed a creditable start to his stud career when runner-up to Acclamation’s son, Mehmas in the first crop sires list (UK & Ire, by earnings) in 2020. Go Bears Go is his current standard bearer and, with many of his runners to date showing improvement with age, hopes are high that a top-tier success will come his way this season.

Kodi Bear’s current standard bearer, Go Bears Go was impressive on his seasonal debut at Ascot and could well go on to better things

Kodi Bear’s current standard bearer, Go Bears Go was impressive on his seasonal debut at Ascot and could well go on to better things

“It’s marvellous to think what we have going forward with Kodi Bear. There’d be about 50 two-year-olds on the ground, I’d say. Same with the yearlings, and then this year’s foals would a big, big crop and he’ll have covered about 160, 170 mares this season. There aren’t enough hours in the day with the amount of people ringing. We had to close the book on him ages ago.”

James Garfield’s first two-year-olds are just hitting the track and the Rathbarry-bred Lady Bullet got him off the mark almost immediately in a Doncaster maiden at the end of April. This promising start has since been enhanced by Maria Branwell and Parr Fire, who both won first time out at Thirsk and Doncaster respectively last Saturday.

“That was a huge boost because, as you know, it’s such a cut-throat game at the moment with the two-year-olds. They have to come out and do it. He would be an underdog because he hasn’t the same firepower as a lot of the other sires. So it’s wonderful to see him start well. I think he’s commercially viable for lads who don’t have a lot of money to spend to get something. He’s got great credentials in fairness, being from the family of Invincible Spirit and Kodiac. You’d be hopeful that that sireline would work as well and so far, so good.

“He hasn’t had many runners yet, but the breeze-ups were great. Andy Lynch and Daniel O’Meara, who is with Eddie Linehan, both got nice money for their breezers. Both of them said that they were nice, sharp types, came to hand well and seemed to have a good attitude. They have to do it on the racecourse but as long as they show something at home, you’d be very hopeful.”

At 29, Tagula keeps a weather eye on everything. “He is very much enjoying life, God love him. Every so often, the boys go out for a cover and he’s kind of looking over the door, going, ‘What about me?’ It’s great to see him out in the paddock now and he is having a pick of grass. Isn’t that wonderful to think that he has never left the place since he returned to stud and he will pass away here too?”

Up the road, the denizens of Glenview continue to be bountiful. Cheltenham and Punchestown yielded the mind-blowing Constitution Hill and Blue Lord for Blue Bresil, while L’Autonomie will look to add to her €1.3m in prizemoney already accumulated when attempting to defend her status as French Champion Hurdler – secured with a 30-length romp last year - in the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil on May 21.

Shirocco, who sired Gold Cup winner Don Cossack and Shishkin, had Bob Olinger scoring at Cheltenham for a second time. That Turners Chase triumph was obviously fortunate, as Galopin Des Champs fell at the last when clear. Incidentally, the latter is by Timos, a son of another Glenview sire, Sholokhov.

Like Acclamation, Sholokhov is now 23 and it is a testament to the staff at Rathbarry and Glenview that both remain hale, hearty and productive. The sire of Champion Hurdle and World Hurdle winner, Annie Power has covered in excess of 80 mares in each of the past three seasons. His Porticello was a Grade 1 winner as a three-year-old last December, whilst Third Wind took the Pertemps World Hurdle and Queens Brook was a close second in the Mares’ Hurdle. Redemption Day disappointed at Cheltenham but pushed his Willie Mullins stablemate Facile Vega all the way in the Punchestown Champion Bumper and has a bright future over hurdles.

“The way Constitution Hill won was incredible,” said Niahm. He is obviously a very exciting horse for the future. On the strength of him and Redemption Day and a few more, we have had to close the book on Blue Bresil as well. In National Hunt, that’s kind of unheard of. We could have charged stupid money if we really wanted to but that’s not fair to anybody. And the horse can only cover so many at the end of the day. He is still going to cover a good lot of mares. There are a couple coming online in the point-to-points and bumpers as well and it’s lovely to see that.

The sensational performances of Constitution Hill ensured that there was a great demand for the services of his sire Blue Bresil this season

The sensational performances of Constitution Hill ensured that there was a great demand for the services of his sire Blue Bresil this season

Sholokhov is busy too,” she continued. “At 23, we have to restrict how many in a day he covers. He has plenty of young stock coming through and they’re popular at sales and with trainers. Shishkin and Bob Olinger are the talking names but he’s got lots of others that can do it for him. You can’t fault him, he has been a phenomenal horse for us.”

Shirocco is two years younger and posted his best ever season just two years ago. “You just pick up the paper and you see another winner by Shirocco. Again, even on the point-to-point scene now, they are doing well. We’ve had plenty of mares coming to him this season and there’s quite a large number of the breeders that have used him from the get-go and still use him.”

Youmzain, the former Champion Older Horse arrived from France in 2018 having sired Group/Graded winners in both codes; Old Persian, a Group 1 winner in America and Dubai who began his stallion career last year, and new recruit Eagles By Day, who was an ultra-consistent performer at Group level, represent the future of Glenview. There is a considerable legacy to uphold but Woods is optimistic.

Youmzain’s first (Irish-conceived) crop are three-year-olds now and will be hitting the store sales this year. We’ve some nice ones by him ourselves going there. He’s been unfortunate in that he hasn’t the numbers from when he was standing in France. There’ve been some nice horses come out and win, but he just needs that talking horse over there to set him alight. He’s got some decent store horses so hopefully a couple of the point-to-point lads will take an interest.

“We have foals by Old Persian now and they’re absolutely cracking. Gorgeous. So that’s standing him in very good stead for mares coming back to him this year on the strength of what lads have on the ground.

“And we’ve had plenty of people coming to see Eagles By Day. They liked him and he’s had plenty of mares. His fertility has been very good. Paul loved the fact that he was by Sea The Stars and then the dam, Missunited, was top class herself. He’s a very good-looking horse. Paul had kept an eye on him and when the opportunity arose to purchase him, he did.”

Eagles By Day, a well bred son of Sea The Stars, was an ultra-consistent performer at Group level

Eagles By Day, a well bred son of Sea The Stars, was an ultra-consistent performer at Group level

With Eagles By Day’s arrival, space was at a premium, so Malinas has made the short journey to Coolagown Stud as a joint venture. Dark Raven was the standout from his first Irish crop, having enough class to win two bumpers by an aggregate 18 and a half lengths, despite his staying pedigree. He missed last season through injury and could be the one to launch his sire to a new level in staying novice hurdles this year.

“There’s some nice horses to be had there by him and there’ll be a lot of his stock in the sales. He had a brilliant run around January and February, having winners every day. That was great timing for Davy (Stack, Coolagown Stud manager), because lads were ringing him up and booking mares in. I know the horse isn’t getting any younger either (at 20) but still he has plenty of soldiers on the ground and plenty of life left in him too.”

The market for prospective stallions has never been more competitive and independent operators have had to adapt accordingly. “To try and keep up with the Jones’s, you either race them yourself or you take that huge, huge chance and you dive in and maybe buy into something that’s up and coming. We’ve done both. Unfortunately you need to have a bit of financial clout behind you because it’s not cheap. You just really have to put your head down and grind away.

“You do need horses coming along the whole time and with National Hunt, they’re in their teens before their stock are coming out and having winners. On the flat, it’s a different scenario and it’s obviously more ruthless. You need to have your two-year-old winners. Because if you don’t, you’re just not going to be supported. Lads don’t want to know you.

“We have Sholokhov at 23 and Shirocco at 21. And when you look at Acclamation on the flat at 23, he has done it all. He’s a proven multiple Group 1 sire of both fillies and colts. But he’s not going to last forever either. So you have to have young horses coming along all the time.”

Woods is as qualified as anyone to judge the overall health of the industry in its broadest sense, given the depth and variety of involvement Rathbarry and Glenview have within it as breeders, pinhookers and point-to-point producers, as well as stallion providers. She would love to see a broader cohort enjoying success and is fearful about the long-standing effects of the dreadful prize money in Britain.

“It could be better,” she says of the current state of affairs. “It seems to be always the same people propping up the whole industry. It’s good to see new people coming in but we need more investors. From our point of view, we’re very lucky that we have horses that appeal to every Joe Soap really. It’s great to see the Americans coming over and having a go as well, and the Australians. But it would be lovely to see more of that. It’s not Ireland, England, France anymore; it’s throughout the world now and we have to focus on that.

“Prize money is a huge factor. Prize money in Group 1s in England are disgraceful. Ralph Beckett and other trainers are never listened to when bringing it up, which is so unfortunate because they are the ones that are coming to the sales to buy our horses and try and get owners for them. And they are finding it very hard to entice people with the prize money so bad. Mum has had horses in training in England and even if they win a race, she still ends up having to spend the money on training fees, transport and so on. That’s why people find it so hard.

“At the end of the day, it’s not all about prize money and we all know that. But if you’re winning races and still writing cheques every month, that’s not right and it’s ruling out a lot of people as potential owners.”

It’s a rare negative point in a tremendously upbeat conversation. And be assured, Woods is not complaining. “Things are going very well thank God, and if we can keep the ball rolling, that’d be brilliant.”

About the author

Daragh Ó Conchúir

Daragh Ó Conchúir is an award-winning freelance writer, author and broadcaster, who has been contributing to mainstream and trade media for more than 30 years, while also serving in editorial roles in that time, including at present, as editor of the Irish Racing Yearbook. 

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