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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Byrnes: bumper gambles were necessary as training is 'a loss-making business'

Charles Byrnes: has decided against running Off You Go at Cheltenham
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Charles Byrnes said on Thursday that his string of successful bumper gambles over the past fortnight have been driven by necessity as he labelled training a "loss-making business".

The trainer of Cheltenham Festival winners Weapon’s Amnesty and Solwhit, Royal Ascot scorer Domination and Grade 1 victors Cailin Alainn, Pittoni and Trifolium, Byrnes made it 19 winners for the season with his latest bumper success, Von Humboldt, at Punchestown on Wednesday.

Byrnes won three bumpers with four-year-olds in 12 days, each well-backed into favouritism.

Despite being on course to send out more than 20 winners for the first time since the 2013-2014 season, when he had 26 domestic victories, Byrnes shed light on the training landscape outside the top bracket by admitting it would be hard to survive without such gambles.

The man behind the market moves said on Thursday: “We fancied the bumper horses and we backed them all. It’s hard enough to get on these days but we had a good rattle at them and thankfully they delivered.

'It's almost impossible'

“We’re all losing money training horses. It’s a loss-making business and you’d need a winner or two like that.

“Unless you have the big numbers it’s almost impossible. We’ve been doing well enough since Christmas and if we keep tipping away hopefully we’ll have over 20 winners in the season, which won’t be too bad.”

Byrnes’s comments come in the same week that the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board revealed that, for the first time in a decade, fewer than 100 people hold full jumps licences in Ireland and that only one applicant for the upcoming trainer’s course had been received.

The trainer has never been shy about having a bet and bookmakers were famously reported to have been hit for a seven-figure sum when War Anthem, Mr Smith and Top Of The Town provided Byrnes with his first treble, at Roscommon in 2016.

Von Humboldt and Ritchie Deegan land the gamble for Byrnes at Punchestown

However, even by his standards, this latest gamble was an enterprising one, with all three horses winning four-year-old bumpers, two of whom – Balliniska Band and Von Humboldt – having been picked up for relatively small money as foals.

He explained: “I just started buying five or six foals every year about three years ago with the help of Richie Downes, who has a very good eye.

“Balliniska Band, who won his bumper at Naas, cost €9,000 and Von Humboldt, who won at Punchestown, cost €14,000. The filly who won at Gowran [Mary B] was a home-bred.”

He added: “We’ll run all three in a bumper once more. There’s a valuable four-year-old bumper at Limerick at the end of the season and there’s a valuable mares’ bumper at Fairyhouse for Mary B.

Unlikely to be represented

“There’s a few more foals at home – they're all on the website! My son [Cathal] is at home working with us now and he’s in charge of all of that.”

Meanwhile, Byrnes is unlikely to be represented at the Cheltenham Festival after deciding against entering impressive Leopardstown winner Off You Go in any of the handicaps.

He said: “Off You Go is fine but we said we’d skip Cheltenham. I’m not sure what the plan is for him now but I’d imagine we’ll look at Fairyhouse and Punchestown.”

It’s hard enough to get on these days but we had a good rattle at them and thankfully they delivered
E.W. Terms
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