TDN Weekend

Brady’s Bear Ready For Royal Appointment

|

l to r Vincent O’Brien, James Cox Brady, Bull Hancock, Raymond Guest & Tom Cooper | Courtesy P Cooper

By Daithi Harvey

Nick Brady has been a titan of American business and political society for the majority of his working life. He served in both the Reagan and Bush administrations as Secretary Of The Treasury, having previously carved out a stellar career in the world of investment banking and corporate finance. The Manhattan born 87-year-old of Irish-American heritage is now enjoying his role as a racehorse owner in Europe through his Mill House LLC stable, which he shares with his daughter Kim, and is making his first visit in a few decades to Royal Ascot next week to see his Jessica Harrington-trained Brother Bear (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) take his chance in the G2 Coventry S. on Tuesday.

Although Brady is a relative newcomer to Irish racing, the sport is definitely in his DNA as he is a former chairman of the American Jockey Club and he has enjoyed good success in the U.S. as an owner with Belmont Grade II winner Trappe Shot (Tapit) who is subsequently proving a useful stallion for Claiborne Farm. His juvenile son McErin, part of the formidable squad sent over by Wesley Ward, is a leading fancy for the G2 Norfolk S. on Friday.

Brady’s father, James Cox Brady, had horses in training in Ireland with Vincent O’Brien in the 1960s, the pair combining for some high profile success, while Brady’s business interests in Ireland also extend to once owning the Cashel Palace Hotel in Tipperary which was reportedly purchased earlier this year by a group of investors including John Magnier. However, while Brady’s black, white and red silks are a relatively new sight to Irish racegoers they are quickly becoming familiar through the exploits of half of his current six-strong string. In a six-week period from the middle of April, the trio of Khukri (Ire) (Sepoy {Aus)), Brother Bear and Grandee (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) each won a stakes race and put themselves in line for even greater challenges throughout this season.

Brother Bear faces his stiffest test to date in his nascent career when he puts his unbeaten record on the line on Tuesday but he has looked a high-class colt on both his starts and Jessica Harrington had little hesitation in aiming the 125,000gns Tattersalls yearling at the Coventry after he won the Listed Marble Hill S. at The Curragh last month. Brady’s current impressive strike rate from a small string is not only aided by a brilliant trainer in Jessica Harrington but also by a noted judge of horseflesh in Patrick Cooper. The BBA Ireland bloodstock agent was the man tasked by Brady four years ago to build a select, high-class team of horses with Classic potential. Brady and Cooper’s initial plan was to focus on middle-distance yearlings with a view to unearthing a Derby winner but that approach bore little fruit in the first year so they changed tack slightly when going about sourcing the next batch of yearlings in year two. Success soon followed and, explaining the owner’s decision to focus his racing interests in Ireland, Cooper explained. “Nick’s interest in Irish racing was piqued many years ago through his friendship with the late Phonsie O’Brien and it was just over five years ago, following a visit to Lismore Castle with his family, that he decided to take a more active interest in Ireland. Phonsie was one of Nick’s great mates in life and he actually named one of his early Irish horses Alphonsus after his old friend. He won his maiden when with John Oxx and looked a nice horse but met with problems and was transferred to Graham Motion in America. At the moment Nick has six in training in Ireland and three are stakes winners so it’s a pretty good ratio, especially as the other three are unraced 2-year-olds.”

Whatever happens with Brother Bear at Ascot, Brady won’t have to wait too long for his next exciting runner with Grandee pencilled in for the G1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Curragh on July 1. The colt booked his ticket for the race with a defeat of Eziyra (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) in the Listed King George V Cup at Leopardstown recently and, given Jessica Harrington’s training record over the last year, an Irish Derby win for the yard would not surprise.

Further interest for Brady that weekend could be added by Khukri aiming for a six-furlong listed race and an unraced 2-year-old named Joust (Ire) (Iffraaj {GB}) on target to make his debut in a six-furlong maiden on the same card. Khukri proved himself a sprinter on the up when winning a listed race at Navan in April but a pulled muscle behind, sustained when finishing fifth to Caravaggio (Scat Daddy) on his last start in the G3 Lacken S. at Naas on May 21, meant connections had to abandon a potential Royal Ascot challenge and give him a bit more time to recover before his next assignment.

Patrick Cooper himself comes from an esteemed racing family and it appears Brady’s choice of a bloodstock advisor was yet another astute decision made. Cooper’s father Tom founded BBA in 1956 and was a renowned bloodstock agent whose counsel was sought by such greats as Vincent O’Brien. Patrick’s own record in purchasing yearlings in the last few years has been impressive and, from just four small batches of yearlings, the select Mill House roster has also included the likes of Rockaway Valley (Ire) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}), who won a maiden and was graded stakes placed in 2015 before being sold to race in Hong Kong, where his name was changed to Travel Datuk. These speedily bred colts like Brother Bear and Khukri weren’t part of the original blueprint Brady and Cooper had in mind but as the agent explains, “It has become almost impossible to buy staying yearlings. Breeders, for commercial reasons, are mostly breeding sprinter/milers so you go to the sales looking for a mile-and-a-half horse and they just aren’t there. But we’re still looking for that type of horse. Nick’s whole objective is to compete in the Classics and that is the kind of horse that we are ultimately trying to acquire.”

Apart from his association with Brady, Cooper has forged a long-standing relationship with Cristina Patino and was a constant figure as her racing manager back in the glory days of Patino’s brilliant homebred Snow Fairy (Ire) (Intikhab). The former Ed Dunlop-trained mare won six Group 1 races in a glorious career that yielded top-level victories in England, Ireland, Japan and Hong Kong. However, another filly that arguably had an even greater impact on Cooper’s life was Photo Call (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). The Todd Pletcher-trained mare was acquired by Cooper out of the David Wachman stable in 2014 for a partnership that included himself, Tattersalls Marketing Director Jimmy George and TDN columnist Bill Oppenheim, and was sent to Graham Motion as a well-bred maiden winner with the potential for improvement. Photo Call duly rose through the ranks and after gaining a Grade III victory in the Violet S. at Monmouth in 2015 she achieved the holy grail of a Grade I win when successful on her next start in the GI Rodeo Drive S. at Santa Anita. Armed with both a formidable race record and pedigree, Photo Call’s next engagement was at the Keeneland November Sale two months later, where she fetched $3-million from Crupi’s New Castle Farm as a racing and breeding prospect. She subsequently rewarded her new connections when claiming the scalp of Tepin (Bernstein) when scoring under an enterprising ride in the GI First Lady S. at Keeneland a year later.

Back to the more immediate focus of the Royal meeting at Ascot and apart from the obvious scenario of blue-blooded racehorses running for significant prize-money, honour and glory while also laying the foundations for future lucrative breeding careers, Cooper is keen to emphasise the significant role racing plays in binding family ties. “The great thing about this week and Nick’s involvement is that he is coming over to Ascot, for probably the first time in about 40 years, and he is coming with his daughter Kim [Cutler], herself a keen equestrian, and her children, so there will be three generations of the family attending. I think that adds hugely to an already wonderful occasion.”

 

Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.