Blue Blood syn­di­cate is hold­ing court

Irish Examiner - County - - Sport - Jor­dan McCarthy

The Blue Blood Rac­ing Club horserac­ing syn­di­cate is thriv­ing, with 134 peo­ple in­volved. Castle­lyons man, James Fen­ton, is a founder mem­ber and club man­ager.

The syn­di­cate, in its third year, is made up of mem­bers of An Garda Síochána. Fen­ton, a Co Water­ford­based garda, is the driv­ing force and the op­er­a­tion has a grow­ing num­ber of horses with cham­pion trainer, Wil­lie Mullins. Sev­eral mares have car­ried the now-fa­mous colours (blue and black, with white stars) to vic­tory.

Blue Blood’s Court Artist recorded her sec­ond win over hur­dles, with vic­tory at Wex­ford in late Oc­to­ber.

Oth­ers to have rep­re­sented the club in­clude the tal­ented Miss Sap­phire, who en­joyed mul­ti­ple wins over the sum­mer; Miss Me Now, the club’s first-ever run­ner and win­ner; and Blixt, a dual win­ner over hur­dles. Miss Che­vi­ous Girl, who is yet to run, rates as an ex­cit­ing prospect.

Speak­ing to the Fen­ton said: ‘‘It’s been a great year, so far. In our first year, we had two win­ners; we had four win­ners the sec­ond year; and we have six win­ners on the board this year.

‘‘We lease mares, be­cause we can im­prove their pedi­gree for the own­ers. And we look for a good pedi­gree, and a bit of form go­ing with it.

“If we are happy, and the own­ers are happy, then we would take them. We put them into pre-train­ing then. If they show a bit of abil­ity, they go on to Wil­lie Mullins.

‘‘The big draw for the club is Wil­lie Mullins. Breed­ers will al­ways love to give their pedi­gree a chance, by hav­ing a horse in train­ing with Wil­lie.’’

A strong con­nec­tion be­tween the club and lo­cal breed­ers, the Mother­way Fam­ily, has been for­ti­fied over the past year.

This has de­vel­oped through Blixt, a rel­a­tive of the leg­endary cham­pion hur­dler, Hur­ri­cane Fly. Blue Blood Rac­ing Club leased the mare from the East Cork fam­ily at Yel­low­ford Farm.

Fen­ton is ex­cited by the as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween the club and the Fanisk-based out­fit. ‘‘I was de­lighted to get in­volved with Blixt. She was af­ter run­ning in three or four bumpers. We were happy with her form and her pedi­gree. The own­ers were de­lighted that we took her on. They are only down the road from me. And it formed a mas­sive friend­ship be­tween us.

‘‘Go­ing for­ward, we’ll do busi­ness with them again. And we are de­lighted to have the op­por­tu­nity. Their stock is top-notch. I dropped Blixt home three weeks ago, back down to Frank (Mother­way’s). To look at her, you’d know that she is go­ing to make a cracker of a dam,’’ Fen­ton said.

Be­ing club man­ager re­quires more than just turn­ing up at the race­course and cheer­ing on the horses. It’s a hands-on role for Fen­ton. And while the mae­stro Mullins trains the horses, the jour­ney to the win­ners’ en­clo­sure be­gins here in Cork.

‘‘My un­cle, David, and his son, Shane, they do a lot of work with pre­train­ing for us. They are very good to get them go­ing. You need that go­ing for­ward. You have to have them to a cer­tain level of fit­ness, be­fore they go to Wil­lie’s. They can kick on with their work then. We do a lot of the work, as well. I’d travel up to Wil­lie’s and put the horse into the box and drop them home again to the own­ers, when the time comes,’’ he said.

Blue Blood Rac­ing Club started out as a dream. But with hard-work, some help from peo­ple within rac­ing cir­cles, and a lit­tle slice of luck, the am­bi­tion came to fruition.

Daithi Crow­ley, an­other Cork na­tive, sat down with Fen­ton, to go about es­tab­lish­ing the club, back in 2015.

Fol­low­ing ad­vice from Horse Rac­ing Ire­land, Ir­ish Thor­ough­bred Mar­ket­ing, and Supreme Horse Rac­ing, they were ready to go. A good foun­da­tion was what they sought, and they cer­tainly got that. Nowa­days, the club con­tin­ues to grow. And it brings a lot of peo­ple a lot of joy.

‘‘The nicest thing about it is the kids’ as­pect. I’ve two girls my­self — Sarah and Noelle — and they have taken a huge in­ter­est in it. They love go­ing rac­ing. They get to have fun and meet the other kids.

‘‘There’s one group of lads who all work to­gether on the one unit in Dublin. They have a share to­gether in the club and they are get­ting se­ri­ous craic out of it. It’s a great so­cial out­let.’’

Fen­ton has en­joyed sev­eral big days out with the club in re­cent years, but his most-cher­ished mo­ment in rac­ing, un­doubt­edly, came back in 2013, when he rode in the char­ity race at the Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val. Hav­ing had his name put for­ward by his wife, Joanne, who had lost a rel­a­tive to can­cer, Fen­ton jumped at the op­por­tu­nity to ride at the sport’s great­est am­phithe­atre, in aid of Can­cer Re­search.

The Corko­nian was aboard the David O’Meara-trained Rosie’s Lady, and while they didn’t win, it was a mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘I didn’t think I’d have a chance of get­ting in. But, I did. It was a dream. I went over to Eng­land to David O’Meara, and I got to ride out there. He put me on some se­ri­ously good horses. It was a trip of a life­time,” Fen­ton says.

James Fen­ton (right) is the club man­ager of Blue Blood Rac­ing. He is pic­tured here with breeder, Ken Parkhill.

Blixt and jockey, Niall Kelly, win­ning the Ir­ish Stal­lion Farms’ EBF Op­por­tu­nity Hand­i­cap Hur­dle in Clon­mel on Septem­ber 7.

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