'For this to happen now is ideal timing' - Kilbarry Lodge heading into core store sale season against backdrop of Success

Aisling Crowe visits the County Waterford stud to chat to Con O'Keeffe ahead of the Goffs Arkle Sale

Success Days and Con O'Keeffe at Kilbarry Lodge Stud
Success Days and Con O'Keeffe at Kilbarry Lodge StudCredit: Aisling Crowe

Timing is said to be an essential component of success in life, especially in comedy and politics. Careers can be built on knowing when to deliver a punchline while understanding when to call an election can make the difference between consolidating power or pivoting to the opposition benches.

The progeny of Kilbarry Lodge Stud's up-and-coming stallion Success Days have recently displayed an uncanny knack for perfect timing. In the fortnight before this week's Goffs Arkle Sale, in which his first crop make their debut, he has supplied the two most expensive store fillies sold in Ireland this year and a very appropriate first winner.

Inner Success won a Gowran Park maiden last Monday for Ken Condon carrying the colours of his owner-breeder Robert Ng. Success Days' own first victory was at the Kilkenny track, as a two-year-old for Condon and Ng, who co-bred the Ballysax and Derrinstown Stud Derby Trials winner with Dermot Farrington.

This stage of a sire's career is one that could be described as awkward; there is a time lag between sales and track, breeders pause as they wait to assess their reception at the sales and the first steps on the track, so for Success Days to land the stallion equivalent of a triple axel demonstrates precision chronology a Swiss watchmaker would envy.

Con O'Keeffe, who stands the Group 2 York Stakes winner and Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup third, agrees.

He says: "The timing is excellent; he had a great May Sale with the two most expensive fillies sold and then last Monday for Ken's horse to come out and win like he did was perfect. It's a timely boost.

"It's a difficult year for him with his first three-year-olds for sale, and people are waiting to see how his stock perform at the store sales and how his first four-year-olds run next year, so for this to happen now is ideal timing."

Diamond Boy has enjoyed another strong season
Diamond Boy has enjoyed another strong season

Successful in six races, four of them Group contests, during a 30-race career that spanned six seasons, Success Days is Jeremy's main heir at stud and a conduit of the Deep Impact blood as Jeremy's dam is a half-sister to the champion, and the similarities between father and son are notable, according to O'Keeffe.

"Success Days has so much going for him," he says. "He raced sound until he was seven and won the Group 2 at York as a five-year-old. He was a tough racehorse but has a wonderful temperament and is throwing fantastic stock.

"We're delighted with the wonderful start Success Days has had with his three-year-old stores and his first runners. He's so like Jeremy in terms of his temperament and rating as a racehorse, as well as his ability to sire foals with substance that can walk. We're very pleased for Ken Condon and Robert Ng with their maiden winner."

From the start, Success Days made an impact in the sales ring and the memory of his first two foals coming under the hammer in November 2021 is as vivid now as the white faces they inherited from their Jersey Stakes-winning grandsire.

Kilbarry consigned both of the foals.

A filly, the first foal out of Dona Katharina, who is a winning Stowaway full-sister to the triple Grade 1-winning chaser Outlander as well as the Grade 2 winners Western Leader and Ice Cold Soul and the Listed winner Mart Lane, was sold on behalf of Briar Lane Stud for €70,000 to Stroud Coleman.

The first two Success Days colts out of Kilbarry Angel, a winning Kalanisi half-sister to Rogue Angel, were also eyecatchers at the foal sales, with her 2021 produce selling for €40,000 and Matt Coleman returned in 2022 to buy her foal for €38,000.  

Journey With Me has a freshness advantage over his main rivals
Journey With Me was bred by Kilbarry Lodge Stud and his half-brother is Lot 267 in the Goffs Arkle SaleCredit: Patrick McCann

"People could see he produces a nice, strong type of foal and they've matured into fine three-year-olds who have great bone, substance and power," says O'Keeffe.

There is a single Success Days gelding in the Arkle Sale catalogue, lot 106 from DMC Bloodstock. The bay is a half-brother to Dan Skelton's winning hurdler Mr Love from the family of Persian War and Feltham winner Sir Blake.

Kilbarry Lodge sell the majority of their horses as foals but the farm has two representatives in this year's Arkle Sale, both by their Grade 1 sire Diamond Boy, whose star performer last season was Impaire Et Passe, successful in the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle and Grade 2 Select Hurdle for Willie Mullins.

"Diamond Boy is a very good, consistent sire and he had a successful year in the point-to-point field with nine winners," says O'Keeffe of the Listed Prix Scaramouche winner.

"People used to say French horses couldn't gel with Irish mares, but he's certainly doing it. He has a strong, jumping pedigree as a full-brother to Golden Silver [Grade 1-winning chaser] and, being by Mansonnien, he goes back to Tip Moss, Luthier, Tourbillon, so it's a real jumping and staying lineage.

"His progeny love a tough test, they like soft ground and they're good, consistent horses with engines. The feedback about him is very positive; he covered a huge book of mares last year and has been very well supported again this year."

Diamond Boy's eldest Kilbarry crop are still only five-year-olds and from that cohort has emerged Grade 2 Aintree mares' bumper winner Diva Luna, who was bred by the O'Keeffes – and it is that achievement which forms a core part of their identity.

"We're breeders," says O'Keeffe, "and last season we were so lucky to breed two Grade 2 winners; Silent Approach and Diva Luna. Silent Approach is from our best family, which we have been nurturing for years, and the last offspring for sale out of this branch of the family is at the Goffs Arkle Sale this week."

That is lot 267, a Diamond Boy half-brother to Silent Approach, winner of the Grade 2 Lombardstown Mares Novice Chase trained by Con himself, having repurchased the daughter of Walk In The Park to bring back into the broodmare band. Another half-brother, Journey With Me, by Mahler, won the Grade 2 Fairyhouse Chase at Easter for neighbour Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore.

They are out of Kilbarry Demon, an unraced Bob's Return half-sister to Henrietta Knight's dual Peterborough Chase winner Racing Demon. Under second dam All Set, those studying the pedigree will find the Grade 1 Golden Cygnet Novices' Hurdle winner Minella Cocooner, as well as the Graded winners Abolitionist, Askanna and Kilbarry Chloe. The family is synonymous with the farm.

Lot 267 by Diamond Boy comes from Kilbarry's best family
Lot 267 by Diamond Boy comes from Kilbarry's best familyCredit: Kilbarry Lodge/Amy Lynam

O'Keeffe says: "It's been so lucky for us. It's a brilliant family that has produced so many winners. All Set, the granddam of this horse, was a wonderful mare and a half-sister to Merry Gale. 

"The Costellos made a huge contribution to making that family – the late Tom Costello bought Merry Gale from Niall Flynn; he bought lots of foals from us over the years and his sons continue to buy foals, especially from that family."

Of this particular gelding, he adds: "It's a real contemporary pedigree and he's a smashing, big horse so hopefully will sell very well."

As breeders, they try to keep the fillies and train them to earn black type, so if they pass that exam they can become broodmares. To that end, they have in training a half-sister to Silent Approach and Journey With Me who is named Kilbarry Ce Ce and hails from the first crop of another resident sire, Pillar Coral, who is a half-brother to Martaline, Coastal Path and Reefscape. 

Kilbarry Ace, by Diamond Boy, is a half-sister to Grade 3 Shannon Spray Novice Hurdle winner Kilbarry Chloe, and then, with every broodmare band needing a transfusion of fresh blood, there is Kilbarry Saint, by Saint Des Saints and who was second for the family in the Grade 2 novice hurdle at Fairyhouse over Easter.

Kilbarry Lodge's Diamond Boy filly in the Goffs Arkle Sale (542) is a product of that policy as she is out of Ebaniya, a Sinndar half-sister to the Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Ebaziyan.

O'Keeffe says: "She's from the Aga Khan's famous E family, which is one of those families that keeps coming back and producing good horses; this year's Oaks winner Ezeliya is part of it. She's a lovely filly and hopefully she'll be popular."

That isn't the only link with the Aga Khan to be found at Kilbarry as the most recent Derby winner bred and raced by His Highness is now coming to the end of his second season at stud there. Harzand has a strong representation in the Goffs Arkle Sale from his time at Giltown Stud, including a half-sister (439) to the Grade 1 Challow Novices' Hurdle and Turners Novices' Chase winner Stage Star, consigned by Baroda Stud.

O'Keeffe says: "Pat Smullen said of Harzand that when you needed him, he was there and dug deep, and it looks like he's putting that into his stock. He's getting big and very strong foals, and I think his future is very bright. 

"He covered a good book of mares again this year and we're very pleased with how he's going."

Harzand's time is coming and so too is that of Success Days with his recent demonstration of perfect timing.

Goffs Arkle Sale Factfile

Where Kildare Paddocks, Kill

When Part One from 10am on Tuesday and Wednesday, Part Two from 10am on Thursday

Last year's stats Part One - from 441 offered, 391 sold (89 per cent) for turnover of €20,466,500 (no change year on year), an average of €52,210 (up one per cent) and a median of €48,000 (up seven per cent). Part Two - from 215 offered, 169 sold (79 per cent) for turnover of €3,333,500 (up seven per cent), an average of €19,725 (up ten per cent) and a median of €17,000 (up six per cent)

Notable graduates Dancing City (sold by Clifton Farm, bought by Leamore Horses for €28,000), Captain Teague (sold by Levittstown Farm, bought by Milestone Stables for €70,000), Stellar Story (sold by Hobby Horse Stud, bought by Monbeg Stables for €50,000), Jasmin De Vaux (sold by Glen Stables, bought by Crawford Brothers for €28,000), Caldwell Potter (sold by Sluggara Farm, bought by Andy and Gemma Brown/Joey Logan Bloodstock for €200,000)

Goffs London Sale
Goffs London Sale

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