BANTRY horse breeders John and Annie O’Donovan (Colomane East) had a red letter first week to 2018, when two offspring from their broodmares won in different tracks in the UK.
It all kicked off on New Year’s Day, when Wholestone, a seven-year Craigsteel gelding, took the feature Grade 2, Relkeel Hurdle in Cheltenham. He’s trained 12 miles from the track by Nigel Twiston-Davies, owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Seude and was ridden by Daryl Jacob. These owners’ record speaks for itself having over 100 winners in the UK and France in 2017.
This was Wholestone’s fourth win in Cheltenham, his record there been excellent, never been out of the three on six visits to the track.
He was one of the best staying novice hurdlers in the UK in 2017 and is bringing his good form into 2018. His next target is the Cleeve Hurdle the end of January en route to the Stayers Hurdle at the festival for which he is 14/1.
Wholestone is out of Last Theatre and Craigsteel, a further West Cork link, Craigsteel stood in Jimmy O’Donovan’s Gortnamona Study in Schull in the latter part of his stud career. Craigsteel breeds tough staying horses and has had numerous winners in the UK this season.
The second winner, Middlebrow, came two days later on January 3rd in Musselburgh. Middlebrow, another O’Donovan’s produce, ran out a three and a half length winner of a Novices Handicap Chase. Middlebrow is an Oscar seven-year gelding by the mare, O What a Girl.
This was Middlebrow’s third win, his second chase win. He’s trained by Donald McCain and owned by Tim Leslie. Middlebrow was very unlucky on his previous start when he was brought down when traveling well.
Speaking from Colomane during the week, John was pleased with both horses triumphs saying, ‘It is great to that the horses are doing well for their connections, both stables are in great form at present.
‘Hopefully Wholestone can go one better at the festival this year, he loves Cheltenham, which is a tough course, he finished third in the Albert Bartlett last year, but he’s seems much stronger this year.
‘Middlebrow has improved since he’s gone chasing and hopefully can improve further; he has the scope to do it.’