Local Fellow Fahey has Dream to win Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final yet again 

Fri 22 Apr 2022

Suprise Package and Darragh O'Keeffe on their way to winning the RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Series Final at the Punchestown Festival last year
High class entries for the third running of the €75,000 RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Series Final at the Punchestown Festival

Punchestown Festival winners are very special to local trainer Peter Fahey and the Kildare native is hoping to snare the same Festival race for a second year in a row with two runners in the €75,000 Connolly’s RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final. 
The RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Series Final will be the second race on Punchestown Gold Cup Day next Wednesday and has proved to be an extremely popular initiative since its introduction. 
Now in its fourth year, the series was designed to create opportunities for horses bought for €45,000/€30,000 or less at store sales in Ireland and the UK, thereby, giving owners and trainers an opportunity to claim some of the €395,000 prize money on offer. To enter the €75,000 final at the Punchestown festival, horses must have run in one of the 16 qualifiers and have not won a listed race or a Grade 1, 2 or 3 race.
This year’s renewal has attracted a total of 17 entries, including the 145-rated Journey With Me, whose two wins for Henry de Bromhead this season include the RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Novice Hurdle at Naas last February and who had run a huge race before falling at the last flight in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Fahey, won the race last year with 14/1 shot Suprise Package who went on to win Sandown’s Imperial Cup this season, and the trainer today confirmed both Ambitious Fellow and Freedom To Dream will take their chance next week. 
The latter has already earned a rating of 133 and carries the same colours of owner Paul Leech as Suprise Package did when scoring 12 months ago, while Ambitious Fellow represents the OGB Partnership and the bumper winner ran a nice race on his hurdling debut when fourth at Clonmel in November.
Fahey said on Friday morning: “Freedom To Dream had a great run in Cheltenham. He has a great bit of experience. It’s a competitive race every year but it’s great prize money and a great initiative by Red Mills and the Irish EBF.”
Freedom To Dream was last seen when fourth in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham. 
“He’s dropping back in trip but I don’t think it’ll inconvenience him too much because he has plenty of experience in big handicaps.
“He came out of Cheltenham very well. He hasn’t had many runs this year. All year long we were aiming him plenty high because we knew he had the Red Mills final to fall back on if he didn’t win a graded race. He ran good races in them and that gave him good experience. For a horse that doesn’t have many runs, he ran to a good standard the whole time.
“Our other runner, Ambitious Fellow, is working very well. He’s a speedy horse. His jumping completely let him down in the Clonmel when he was fourth in the Red Mills Irish EBF maiden hurdle. The ground looked to be very soft for him too.
“He’s a nice horse. He was very impressive the day he won his bumper and I think he’ll develop into a very nice horse during the summer. I’d be delighted if he could pick up a bit of the prize money.”
Reflecting on last year’s success with Suprise Package, Fahey added: “It’s been a lucky race for us the whole time and this series has with the qualifiers. The horses have always been running well. It was great to win last year with Suprise Package and Freedom To Dream has the same owner, Paul Leech, so he’ll be hoping to go back-to-back. The Big Dog was second in it before.
“For the horses that aren’t the most expensive stores, it gives you a level playing field and there’s massive prize money for them.
“And it’s always nice as a Kildare trainer to have a Punchestown winner, if we can manage it.”
Other notable inclusions are the Gordon Elliott-trained I A Connect who was a course winner back in November when actually beating Suprise Package by a nose and the Willie Mullins-trained Glengouly who is seeking a hat-trick for the champion trainer. 
Recent Limerick winner The Road To Fame could line up for trainer Eoin Doyle, while another local trainer, Oliver McKiernan has given an entry to Downpatrick scorer Winding River. 
Stuart Crawford, who is represented by Peaceful Sunday, is another ardent supporter of the series, and is looking forward to running the Fairyhouse maiden winner. 
“We had two horses that looked like they might fit the bill to give us a good go at the final. Since we’ve bought these horses, it’s probably worked out that we’ve kept an eye on the series.
“This series gives you an option to aim for a really good pot with a horse maybe that’s been bought for a relatively cheaper price in comparison to others.”
“Since Peaceful Sunday won the maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse it has been a target for him. The prize money is a very juicy carrot to be able to dangle in front of a new owner or an existing owner with a new horse.”
Nessa Joyce, Irish EBF Manager, said; “Now in its fourth season, the Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Series has firmly established itself as a valuable target for connections of EBF eligible store horses, bought at auction. This season, two new races were added to bring the total number of qualifying races up to 16 which then culminates in next week’s exciting €75,000 final at the Punchestown Festival. Nearly 80 different trainers have campaigned 117 horses in the series from last May and the entries for the final have whittled it down to 17 horses from 14 different yards which includes seven series winners. The Irish EBF board would like to thank all the connections for supporting the series and the final and special thanks goes to our sponsorship partners Connolly’s Red Mills for their continuing generous support.”
Gareth Connolly, CEO, Connolly’s RED MILLS, added; “This has been a long time coming and we’re delighted for the team at Punchestown that they’ll be welcoming back racegoers to this year’s highly anticipated Festival. This is the fourth year that Punchestown will host the €75,000 RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Series Hurdle Final but only the second time in front of a crowd and it will be great to have the crowds and connections back to savour the occasion.”
It was also revealed this week that Connolly’s RED MILLS will generously sponsor the Stable Staff yard canteen each day of the 2022 Punchestown Festival. The five day season finale at Punchestown is a demanding schedule and Connolly’s Red Mills recognise the importance of ensuring the stable staff are well catered for. Their support will ensure that the hard working yard teams will enjoy complimentary selection of hot dishes, sandwiches, snacks, pastries, tea and coffee throughout their Festival day.   

£200,000 British EBF 2yo Series Announced

Mon 11 Apr 2022

In 2021, the British EBF (European Breeders’ Fund), became Britain’s largest sponsor, allocating £1.7million to over 750 flat races.  This contribution accounted for over 17% of the total prize money available in races run with EBF conditions.

An extra £100,000 of prize money has been allocated in 2022 to produce the British EBF 2yo Series; a programme of races which provides progeny of middle market stallions opportunities to develop through their 2yo career and have meaningful, high-value, end of season targets. 

The advent of the Restricted novice and maiden races, where horses are allocated a band to race within depending on their auction and median-auction value, provided a means through which to achieve this.

The Trustees of the British EBF were keen to identify ways to encourage a new avenue for progeny of commercially priced stallions to compete without an expensive series of early closing deadlines.  The accessibility of the series to owners with middle market horses is central to its purpose.

The finals are staged at Grade 1 independent racecourses, widely acknowledged as promoting developmental races and providing excellent prize money.  Goodwood and York both pledged the full financial support requested by the British EBF in their tender process; match-funding the £100,000 British EBF prize money contribution.

Holding the finals between early September and early October, will encourage winning owners and trainers to re-invest the prizemoney at the yearling sales.


Any EBF eligible 2yos can race in one of over 100 EBF Restricted Novice/ Maiden races during the 2022 GB flat season.  If they finish in the first 6, they will be eligible to enter 1 of 2 finals staged in the early Autumn. See the list of qualifiers here.

The 7-furlong finals have been divided by sex, with a fillies’ race at Goodwood on Tuesday 6 September and one for colts and geldings at York on Friday 7 October.  2 finals maximise the number of horses eligible to run for the £100,000 prizes and removes the need to add further allowances.

These high-value opportunities are designed to be as accessible as possible which precipitated the British EBF Trustees’ decision not to programme them as early closing races.  They will carry the standard one-off entry fee for races of that class run at their respective courses.


Simon Sweeting, Chairman British EBF:

“With a reduction in racing in 2020, came a small surplus of funds for the British EBF.  The Trustees were keen to make sure that this money was re-focused to do the maximum good it could for the industry.  This series not only provides tantalising prize money targets but also aims to add the EBF’s weight to encouraging owners to re-invest at the yearling sales.  With no early closing stages and over 100 chances to qualify a horse, we hope that owners and trainers will support this new initiative.  We are looking forward to 2 highly competitive finals in the Autumn.”

Edward Arkell, Goodwood Racecourse:

‘’Goodwood is thrilled to be working with the British EBF on an industry leading initiative for 2YOs. Hosting the £100,000 Fillies final underlines Goodwood’s commitment to development races, the wider health of the industry and prizemoney returns to horsemen. This series provides the progeny of middle market stallions with a substantial end of season target which we are delighted to host. We have no doubt the finals will develop into one of racing’s end of season highlights.’’

William Derby, York Racecourse Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course:

“We are delighted that the European Breeders’ Fund have chosen York and Goodwood as the partner venues for the finals of this new initiative.  We are pleased to be staging the new, £100,000 Final for Colts and Geldings on the Knavesmire on Friday 7 October.  We all share a commitment to British Racing and are pleased to have created the two new six figure targets for juveniles who finish in the first six places of qualifying EBF Restricted Races.  Modern sport is about creating development pathways for emerging talent and this innovative series seeks to further reward owners, horsemen and breeders as well as creating compelling and competitive racing. It is a great option for younger horses and potentially those connections who are in the early stages of their experience of our sport.”

David Menuisier, International Gr.1 winning trainer, local to Goodwood commented:

‘’The British EBF has created a series that all trainers will want to have horses running in. It is a great initiative for middle market horses and gives them a valuable end of season target. The Finals being normal closing races makes a big difference and prevents a slower developing horse from being penalised. I will certainly be aiming horses at the Finals and very much hope to be at Goodwood and York with runners in them.’’

Kevin Ryan has enjoyed huge success for over 25 years in unearthing progressive future stars at the sales and breeze ups. He has a tremendous track record with juveniles as well as horses who then graduate to Pattern success.  From his North Yorkshire Hambleton base, he said:

“This is a tremendous initiative by the British EBF to link their restricted maiden and novice races to two brand new £100,000 finals in the autumn.  With Goodwood staging the six-figure final for fillies and York the final for colts and geldings, it looks set to give a great boost to owners of these horses with a valuable end of season target.  Such initiatives are a great reward for owners who have supported the industry through the pandemic and give great optimism for the flat season ahead. We very much look forward to competing in both the series and, hopefully, both finals with our current crop of two-year-olds who are shaping up nicely for the season ahead.”    

Lyons in search of another Classic type to Bridge gap to last year’s Irish EBF Ballyhane winner

Thu 31 Mar 2022

Naas Racecourse, Naas, Kildare 2/8/2021 Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes Colin Keane onboard Sacred Bridge comes home to win the race ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

To view the list of entries click here – RACE ENTRIES ON HRI RAS WEBSITE

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 EBF Uphold Record €2.6 Million Sponsorship

Thu 24 Mar 2022

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.”