How Dias Turned Water Into Wine With 100-1 Naas Maiden Winner

Diego Dias: “She won two grand and was over the moon. It was a great day.” | Brian Sheerin


As unlikely triumphs go, the story of Diego Dias plundering a 13-runner Naas maiden with a 100-1 outsider son of the unheralded Johnny Barnes (Ire) would fit nicely in the catalogue of improbable dreams realised. 

But that's exactly the trick the Brazilian native achieved on Sunday with the now likely-to-be-sold Winemaker (Fr)–and he even backed the colt to win that six-furlong maiden at massive odds for good measure. 

In between sniffing out the next Shelton (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}) or Malavath (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}), both of whom have passed through the hands of the renowned breeze-up operator, Dias cheered home his Naas winner at Doncaster on Sunday ahead of the Premier Yearling Sale.

Not only did Dias bag almost €15,000 in winning prize-money, he also netted the price of the horse in money won off the bookmakers. However, the biggest windfall of all looks set to be secured in the coming days, with six-figure offers on the table from a number of clients. 

Dias explained, “I got him at 150-1 but the bookies only let me have 29 euros each-way that morning. I waited a couple of hours and they let me put another 30 euros each-way and then, just before the off, I had one more good bet at odds of 100-1. 

“What's even better was, my partner Hannah was at the track with a few friends. One of them, a Brazilian girl, knows nothing about racing but went up and had 20 euros to win at 100-1. She won two grand and was over the moon. It was a great day.”

He added, “I've had a good few calls about the horse since Sunday. If I am honest, I think he could end up in America. He acts very well on the sand but he's equally as effective on the grass. I actually never worked him on the grass before Naas but he handled it no bother.”

Winemaker was originally bought by John Bourke of Hyde Park Stud. It was Bourke's eye and pocket that sourced Poyle Sophie (GB) (Teofilo {Ire}), carrying future Classic winner Cachet (Ire) (Aclaim {Ire}), for just 3,000gns at the December Mares Sale in 2018. Bourke parted with the same paltry fee–in euros–to secure Winemaker at the Osarus September Yearling Sale. 

Fast-forward eight months and the Cork native was back on the boat to France with Winemaker, who Dias breezed and then followed into the ring at the Arqana Deauville Summer Sale, eventually pouncing to snap up the colt at €12,000.

Bourke explained, “I bought Winemaker for €3,000 as a yearling last September. I loved him when I saw him. He was a May foal but he was strong–he'd a fantastic arse on him. 

“I brought him home and never entered him for any sale and just kept him for that July Sale at Arqana in Deauville. I had 14 in that sale, half of which were ones who didn't sell elsewhere or whatever, including the Galiway (Fr) filly [Cite d'Or {Fr}] who Nick Bradley bought off me for €43,000. 

“I couldn't get 20,000 guineas for her at Tattersalls in April but I got €43,000 in France. Sometimes it works out that way–she actually won at Brighton for Harry Eustace and I'd say she's not too bad.”

He added, “I brought Diego and 'Flash' [Gordon Power] to France. Diego rode nine for me and 'Flash' rode seven. Diego bought the Johnny Barnes and, fair play to him, I'm delighted for him.”

Picking up the story, Dias recalls the impression Winemaker left on him in the breeze and, despite being back home in Ireland–where he has been based for 17 years–by the time the horse went through the ring, was determined not to let him slip through the net. 

He said, “I came back after the pre-breeze and I told John that he was a proper horse. I rode 12 horses in the actual breeze the following day and, out of the 12, I picked out two that I really liked. He was one of them.

“I went back home after the breeze but I was watching the sales online. I told Antonio Lemos, who was at the sales, to follow the horse into the ring. He did that for me and, with two bids, I bought the horse for just €12,000.”

On the race itself, he added, “I was confident that he'd be placed and that he wouldn't be beaten too far. I didn't expect him to win because he's only 80 per cent fit. 

“Kevin Ryan was watching the race beside me. He asked what was he by, and, when I told him, he'd never heard of the stallion. It's the first Johnny Barnes to win in Ireland. Good horses come from anywhere.”

And Dias clearly knows what a good horse looks like. He has been an integral part of the Star Bloodstock operation as well as Jimmy Coogan's [for whom Winemaker won for] yard on the Curragh but has plans now to move to his own base in the coming years. 

Before then, he is concentrating on sitting the trainer's course, and the likely sale of Winemaker is set to help the 40-year-old get his burgeoning operation off the ground. 

He explained, “This was my first year selling under my own name. I sold Shelton (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}) to Paddy Twomey at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze-up Sale. She won her maiden at the Curragh earlier this month and I think she's a proper filly.  

“I prep all of the Star Bloodstock horses and we had Malavath (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}) last year. We sold Silencer (Ire) (Kessaar {Ire}) this year and, while he hasn't won yet. he's rated 92 and has been a bit unlucky not to have won.”

He added, “I am going for my trainer's licence. I have been looking for a place of my own for a while now and, if we sell Winemaker, it should be a big help.”

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