By Amy Lynam
By Amy Lynam
Joe Foley has always been ahead of the curve. Irish Champions Weekend, now the jewel in Irish racing’s crown, was dreamt up by the master of Ballyhane Stud, and he drew up plans for the Irish Stallion Trail on the back page of a sales catalogue at Goffs four years ago. Foley also had bullish conviction that his stallion Dandy Man (Ire), was the next big thing. The son of Mozart (Ire) sired Weatherbys Super Sprint victor Peniaphobia (Ire) and the Listed Windsor Castle S. winner Extortionist (Ire) in his first crop, and they would go on to win the G1 Hong Kong Sprint and G3 Coral Charge, respectively, the following year. The shrewd breeders who paid attention sent mares to Dandy Man in his sixth breeding season, that of 2015, and in 2018, they have reaped the rewards. John Hutchinson bred Comedy (Ire), an impressive winner of the G3 Prix de Cabourg in July, while it was John O’Connor, a close friend of Foley, who can claim the honour of breeding Lady Kaya (Ire), runner-up in the G1 Moyglare Stud S. earlier this month.
Top honours, though, go to David Ryan’s Elton Lodge Stud for breeding Dandy Man’s second top-level winner, La Pelosa (Ire), victorious in the GI Natalma S. at Woodbine.
Joe Foley knew what lay ahead and sees the recipe to success as very simple. “Those three fillies are out of good mares and that’s the difference, compared to what he’s covered in the earlier stages of his career,” he says. “La Pelosa is out of an unraced Bushranger (Ire) mare, but from a deep Niarchos family. Lady Kaya was bred by a very good breeder in John O’Connor, out of a Singspiel (Ire) mare who had previously produced a talented sales race winner by Intense Focus. Comedy is out of a Dubawi (Ire) mare who won her maiden by ten lengths for Lady O’Reilly,” he added.
So is this as good as it gets for Dandy Man? Foley doesn’t believe so. “The good thing is that the crops get even better now as we go forward,” he says. “There is a large number of stock still to come from those higher-quality mares. His current yearling crop is as strong, if not stronger, than his current 2-year-old crop, but his best-bred crop is his current foal crop, by some margin.”
Looking down the list of Dandy Man’s top progeny, it’s hard to distinguish common threads, though mares from the Northern Dancer line appear on more than one occassion. Nureyev is the grand-damsire of Peniaphobia, while the dam of Extortionist comes from the Danzig line, as do those of Parbold (Ire) and La Pelosa, while Lady Kaya descends from Northern Dancer, via Sadler’s Wells.
Foley says, “Dandy Man is quite inbred to Northern Dancer himself and before we started with him, I wondered how that might work, but it would appear that he blends back in with Northern Dancer-line mares very successfully.” But he is keen not to pigeonhole his stalwart’s range. “Essentially, as far as I can see, you can send any type of mare to him; he even gets good-looking stock out of bad-looking mares. You can cover quite freely with him, you don’t have to limit yourself. As is seen with his top three fillies this year-Singspiel with a distance pedigree, a Dubawi with a distance pedigree and an unraced Bushranger mare.”
Dandy Man is one of five stallions standing at Foley’s Ballyhane Stud in County Carlow and their master is keen to spread the word of his next ‘star in waiting’. “I think Elzaam (Aus) is as good as Dandy Man and he’s just there waiting for the uplift that is coming through in his mares,” he says. “His next yearlings and foals, like those of Dandy Man, are improving significantly and I’m confident that improvement will follow through on the track.”
Foley comes across as a positive, free-thinker and indeed, that is his approach to his stallion operation, “I’m actively looking for a new stallion for next season and, of course, we have Soldier’s Call (GB) in the pipeline, at some stage.” Soldier’s Call runs in the grey silks of Steve Parkin’s Clipper Logistics operation, managed by Foley, which has enjoyed a wonderful season. The 85,000gns yearling buy provided Parkin with a priceless Royal Ascot win in the Listed Windsor Castle S., followed up in a victory in the G3 Prix d’Arenberg at Chantilly in early September, before taking the G2 Flying Childers S. at Doncaster just 13 days later.
Between standing stallions, managing a growing racing operation and monitoring the success of Irish Champions Weekend and the Irish Stallion Trail, you might think Foley has his hands full, but apparently this is not so. He was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Irish European Breeders’ Fund earlier this year and is also involved in the Plus 10 bonus scheme, on which he comments, “I helped found the Racing Post Yearling Bonus Scheme many years ago, which morphed into Plus 10, which I also helped to set up. I’m disappointed to hear the British contingent of the Plus 10 committee seeming to want to disband the Plus 10 scheme, which has been so successful for owners in particular, and make it a British-only scheme. In this era, that of Brexit and nationalism, I think it’s a disappointingly backwards step.”
Backward is not a direction Foley is accustomed to. Forward he goes, always.