Ger Lyons is hoping that one of his crop of juveniles among the huge list of entries for the €300,000 Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes at Naas on August 1 could turn out to be as good as last year’s winner Sacred Bridge, who he reports to be “in great order” ahead of a potential Classic tilt. A total of 303 entries were received for the Bank Holiday bonanza with 95 of those being overseas entries and among the entries there is 162 colts and geldings and 141 fillies entered. Now in its third year, the Ballyhane Stakes is for two year olds only that are EBF eligible and whose sire established one or more yearling sales with a median price of not more than €75,000.
There is a global feel to the initial entries for this year’s renewal which sees 192 different owners or owner partnerships from all over the world being represented for the race which boasts a prize of €150,000 for the winner and a further €150,000 broken down all the way to the 12th placed horse on the day. The current line-up sees horses by 87 different sires entered with the Ballyhane Stud-based stallion Dandy Man responsible for 18 of the entries, while the sire of last years winner Sacred Bridge, Bated Breath, has just two entries this time around. Starspangledbanner stands alongside Dandy Man as the two sires most represented on the list, with 18 of his progeny also going forward.
Three of those are owned in the partnership of Sean Jones, David Spratt and Lynne Lyons, wife of last year’s winning trainer Ger Lyons. “It’s a valuable race so we enter anything that qualifies and at this stage, you have no idea really. But we’ve been lucky in it after winning with Sacred Bridge last year. It takes a good one to win it so hopefully we have a good one in there somewhere,” said Lyons. The Group 1 winning trainer added: “I’ve said it before but the Irish EBF are brilliant for Irish racing as the main sponsor and everyone appreciates that. So when there is so much prize money on offer as there is for a race like this, on our doorstep, we will always support it by entering what’s qualified and hopefully one of them will stand up and be counted.” 2021 winner Sacred Bridge looks a very exciting type and holds entries in both the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket and The Curragh and Lyons had a positive update on the Juddmonte-owned filly. “She’s there and whether she gets a trip further or not – she doesn’t have to but she’s bred to go further and it would be nice if she could. Time will tell but she’s in great order at the moment.”
Trainer Fozzy Stack has also included a number of entries with a view to having some representation going forward for the major summer prize. “It’s a big pot and a good incentive so we’d always make entries for it so hopefully there might be one or two that might make the cut nearer the time,” Stack said. “It’s a credit to Joe Foley and Ballyhane, fair play to him, it’s a fantastic incentive and the Irish EBF are huge supporters for Irish racing for a long time. You need a fair horse to win it as shown last year but that’s what you expect with such a pot.”
Speaking on the popularity of the race which has attracted over 1,000 initial entries since the inaugural running in 2020, Joe Foley of Ballyhane Stud said: “The race has very quickly exceeded our expectations by becoming one of the main targets for owners of eligible two-year-olds each year. I would like to sincerely thank all the connections who have made entries since the race’s initial running in 2020 and hope to meet as many of them as possible at Naas this August 1st to witness in person the third running of the race.”
Irish racing’s largest sponsor, the Irish European Breeders’ Fund will continue with their record sponsorship of €2.6 million in 2022. This will be the second year contributing €2.6 million since Covid restrictions impacted racing and will bring the overall contribution to nearly €54 million since the foundation of the Irish European Breeders’ Fund in 1983. This spend will encompass nearly 500 races, both flat and National Hunt, that will carry EBF conditions throughout the year.
The mainstay of the Irish EBF sponsorship portfolio is the support given to two-year-old maidens, with 95% of all maiden races carrying EBF conditions and benefitting from added prize-money. As an added feature for connections of two-year-olds, there are 52 series races on offer for two-year-olds with a total prize-fund of about €1.4 million. The Median Sires Series will have 26 races and the successful Irish EBF Auction Series, now in its eighth year, will have 24 races and two finals including the Irish EBF Auction Series Final of €120,000 at Naas racecourse in October. The €300,000 Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes is a valuable showcase for median races and will take place on the August Bank Holiday Monday at Naas Racecourse this year.
The highlights of the support given to National Hunt races includes 22 series races worth over €480,000 including a €75,000 final available to horses bought at auction for €45,000/€30,000 or less. The popular Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series has 16 qualifying races and a final at the Punchestown Festival which is backed up by the Irish EBF Auction Bumper Series with six races worth €15,000 each over the season. As always, significant support is given towards mares races with about 50% of the National Hunt allocation targeted at mares’ chases, hurdle and bumper races.
Joe Foley, Irish EBF Chairman, said; “Prize-money is the lifeblood of our industry and the governors of The Irish European Breeders’ Fund are delighted to announce our allocation of €2,600,000 to the prize-money pool in Ireland for 2022. The owners of every stallion standing in Ireland, big or small, Flat or National Hunt, have contributed to this amount and as chairman, I’d like to thank them for their contributions. We worked hard to increase our funding to record levels during the last few years to enable prize-money to remain as high as possible through pandemic times and we’re pleased to maintain this contribution this year, when we welcome everyone back to the racetracks of Ireland.”
Cathal Beale, CEO Irish National Stud, commented; “Prize-money is the fuel that powers our industry. As stallion owners, by contributing to the EBF, we are directly benefitting the end users, the owners. This in turn has a positive impact for trainers, sales companies, breeders and everyone involved in the industry. The opportunities afforded to EBF registered stallions are not only limited to the additional €2.6 million prize-money allocation in Ireland but to all EBF eligible races in member countries. The scheme has stood the test of time and continues to deliver a remarkable impact.”
Catherine Cashman, Rathbarry and Glenview Studs, said; “Our family farm have proudly supported the Irish EBF scheme since its foundation in the eighties and it is wonderful to see how much it has grown and how the race programme has developed over the years. There are now so many opportunities available to the progeny of all our stallions in EBF races that we feel our annual contribution comes back to us full circle by keeping owners engaged in the industry through buying at the sales or breeding to race. Hopefully the Irish EBF will be around for another 40 years and keep helping everyone in Irish racing.”
New trustees welcomed from Whitsbury Manor Stud and Juddmonte
Commitment of retiring Trustees Chris Richardson and Simon Mockridge acknowledged
British EBF Race Programme 2022
A proposed £1.7million will again be allocated to over 700 flat races in Great Britain as part of the British EBF’s on-going commitment to supporting developmental races and enhancing prize money across the programme. The National Hunt prizemoney allocation will also remain un-altered, supporting 4 series, including the ever-popular EBF National Hunt Novice Hurdle and 3 programmes to promote National Hunt Mares over hurdles, chase fences and in NH flat races.
A further £100,000 has been allocated to a new series for EBF eligible 2yos on the flat with details to be announced in April.
Support continues for the staying programme in the form of the highly successful EBF Future Stayers’ races. For the progeny of sires/ dams which ran over 10f and above, this group of races has produced 33 black type winners including Gr.1 winners: CRACKSMAN, HURRICANE LANE, LINE OF DUTY and ROYAL MARINE.
Edward Harper of Whitsbury Manor Stud is welcomed to the Board of Trustees as Chris Richardson (Cheveley Park Stud) retires after 2 full terms in the spring. Simon Mockridge (Juddmonte Farms) is expected to be succeeded by Shane Horan after 6 years as a Trustee. Sam Bullard (Darley Stallions) will return to replace Jono Mills as the Darley Stallions representative.
British EBF Chairman, Simon Sweeting, himself entering his second term in the role, thanked the outgoing Trustees:
“Chris Richardson, Simon Mockridge and Jono Mills have been dedicated members of the Board; on behalf of the British EBF, I thank them for their time, hard work and being wonderful ambassadors for the organisation. They have helped guide our recent decision making, been conscientious and provided practical support and solutions to the British EBF through a challenging couple of years for British racing.”
“We are looking forward to welcoming Ed Harper and Shane Horan to the board of Trustees from Whitsbury Manor Stud and Juddmonte.”
Ed Harper is Stud Director of Whitsbury Manor Stud and brings with him a commercial stallion master and breeder’s view of the industry along with his passion for racing. He commented:
“I am delighted to be joining the EBF board of Trustees. The EBF continues to be a vital source of prizemoney and I hope to continue its good work for the benefit of both racing and breeding in the UK.”