Mickey Cleere: 'I Was Never As Nervous – Big Evs Is The Fastest I've Ridden'

Mickey Cleere: sourced Big Evs as a yearling | Tattersalls


Top breeze-up handler Mickey Cleere has shared how he breathed a huge sigh of relief after Big Evs (Ire) (Blue Point {Ire}), a horse he describes as the fastest he has ridden, bounced right back to form to run away with the G2 Flying Childers S. at Doncaster. 

That win provided Cleere with an added pep to his step ahead of the Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale, where he picked up the similarly smart juvenile Ballymount Boy (Ire) (Camacho {GB}) for just €8,000, before turning him into a €110,000 breezer some eight months later.

But the Mick Appleby-trained Big Evs is something out of the ordinary in the eyes of Cleere. And that is saying something given the talented operator prepared 2019 G2 Norfolk S. winner A'Ali (Ire) (Society Rock {Ire}) for the breeze-ups on behalf of Star Bloodstock. 

“I've never been as nervous,” an ecstatic Cleere admitted after the race on Friday. “It was such a bad run in the Nunthorpe, I was only hoping that he could bounce back to what I thought he could do, and it's just great that he showed people what he's made of.”

He added, “Big Evs is the fastest horse I have ever been associated with and I breezed A'Ali for Star Bloodstock. It's fantastic to have been involved with a horse as good as him. It's the best feeling in the world. I can't even describe how good it is to have been involved with a two-year-old as good as Big Evs. 

“Everyone is after a Royal Ascot two-year-old these days and it's a dream to have found one. It makes you trust your own judgment. Hopefully it will be good for business as well. We'll find out next year I suppose.”

Cleere's judgment was bang on the money about Ballymount Boy as well. Despite being light on pedigree, the colt was judged to have been such a looker by Cleere that he rolled the dice on him at Tattersalls Ireland almost a year to the day, and it is a decision that has paid off in spades. 

“We're all basically like sheep in the breeze-up game and are following the fashion. At the same time, you are kind of forced to, aren't you? The day you buy is the day you sell,” – Mickey Cleere

From a humble price tag of just €8,000 from Ridge Manor Stud, Ballymount Boy then fetched €110,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland Goresbridge Breeze-Up Sale in the spring to Danny Hussy on behalf of trainer Adrian Keatley. 

The colt was snapped up on the private market by the emerging force of Wathnan Racing in between runner-up efforts in the G2 Richmond S. and the G3 Acomb S. and will bid to further illustrate Cleere's talents at spotting top-class runners when lining out for the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at ParisLongchamp.

“I didn't even have Ballymount Boy on the list of horses I wanted to see at the sale last year,” Cleere recalled. “I'd binned him, to be honest, purely because he was by Camacho. They can be hard horses to re-sell in my game. 

“It's completely the wrong way of doing things and I know that. We're all basically like sheep in the breeze-up game and are following the fashion. At the same time, you are kind of forced to, aren't you? The day you buy is the day you sell and you have to be guided by fashion somewhat.”

Cleere added, “One thing I will say about Ballymount Boy is that I went down to look at another horse who was stabled beside him but, when I saw this Camacho colt out showing for a different person, he just caught my eye. I followed him over to his stable door and he was a cracking yearling. 

“I thought he was as good as I saw on the day–a man among boys, really. His pedigree was okay without being savage but I was prepared to go to around €25,000 for him because I liked him so much.”

In many ways, horses like Ballymount Boy capture the philosophy of what Cleere's business model is all about; finding race horses, first and foremost. He has tried following fashion in the past, but to his detriment, and says he is happy to continue to ply his trade as he feels best.”

He explained, “I started out on my own under MC Thoroughbreds in 2019 and I'm trying to go the opposite way to most people by just buying a nice horse, rather than the horses by the nice stallions. 

“I've bought the Kingmans and the ones by fashionable sires and you're just never getting a good enough horse for the money that I want to spend so that's why I am going the other direction now. I'd prefer to forgive the pedigrees a small bit and buy the nicer physicals.”

In Big Evs, Cleere managed to secure a horse by one of the hottest young sires in the business in Blue Point, but the Killenaule man reveals that the speedster required some outside-the-box-thinking at 50,00gns from Houghton Bloodstock at the Tattersalls Book 2 Sale.

Cleere said, “I'd say if Big Evs was a couple of inches bigger I wouldn't have gotten near him. When I bought him, he was handy enough but he was very strong with a good enough walk. For a small horse, he walked like a big horse. He'd have made somewhere between seventy and a hundred grand if he was a bit bigger.”

He added, “I was never so sure about a horse than Big Evs, though, and we got him sold privately without going to any sale. For me, he was quicker than A'Ali, and I was confident of that. I'm just glad he's proving us right.”

With Big Evs and Ballymount Boy among last year's graduates, Cleere could have been forgiven for hitting this year's yearling sales hard. However, he revealed that he has not started shopping yet, and that he plans on adding the first of next year's two-year-olds to the team at Tattersalls Ireland next week. 

He said, “I haven't started shopping yet. I always let them power away early on before jumping in a bit later. I just find it is harder to buy at the earlier sales. There's plenty of early and speedy horses at Fairyhouse and even Book 2 at Tattersalls, so there's no real panic. 

“We hope to get 20 yearlings over the next few weeks and I'm looking forward to Tattersalls Ireland. The place has been very lucky for me. I've bought plenty of winners there and hopefully that continues next week.”

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