Blue Blood syndicate is holding court
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.