'We Breed Them Tough Here' – Marnane Brews Up A Storm At Bansha BBQ

Amy Marnane, Mike O'Brien and Con Marnane at the Bansha House Open Morning on Saturday | Brian Sheerin


Dozens of flights were cancelled, 34,000 homes were left without power, roads were closed due to fallen trees and race meetings were lost as Storm Kathleen raged across Ireland.

Only Con Marnane could organise a BBQ in the middle of one of the worst storms the country has faced in months and it be deemed a success.

The plan to stage Saturday's open morning at Bansha House Stables was first hatched when the Marnane family visited the Magic Millions Sale in Australia and, despite the weather in Tipperary, Con couldn't have been happier with how the idea was recieved by buyers and racing fans alike. 

He said, “We're absolutely thrilled with how the day went. Weather-wise, it was the worst day we've had all year. People were ringing me at seven o'clock this morning wondering if it was going to go ahead or not but I told them that they are bred tough down here. We had about 500 people here this morning and, while the weather was horrendous, we had a lovely time.”

Marnane added, “I was at the Magic Millions Sale in January and they looked after us so well over there–I was blown away by the generosity of the sales company. I said to myself when I came home that we are not doing enough to promote our own industry here which is why I decided to have an open day with a nice BBQ and drink for whoever wanted to visit us. About 20 people–agents and trainers–came over from England and I very much appreciate them giving us their time.”

John and Sean Quinn, Dylan Cunha, Jamie Piggott and Jeremy Brummit are just a few of those who made the trip across the Irish Sea. It was actually the latter, who, in showering Marnane with praise, said, “It's just a pity more British trainers didn't make the trip to see how it's done because the majority of people with a training licence in Britain wouldn't have been able to pull off what Con has done today. It's a bloody credit to him.”

South African native Cunha was happy to have returned to the man who provided him with his big hope for the season. The Newmarket-based handler's El Bufalo (GB) (Havana Grey {GB}) was led out unsold at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze-Up Sale by Marnane's Bansha House Stables 12 months ago at 22,000gns. Fast forward to this spring, and the Wolverhampton maiden winner holds an entry for the 2,000 Guineas, albeit he is a 100-1 shot for the early-season Classic. 

Cunha explained, “We bought El Bufalo from Bansha House last year. It's a very good farm. El Bufalo is still in the Guineas and is a horse we like a lot. We got a nice Ten Sovereigns from Con and he is very nice as well. We bought three horses from the breeze-ups last year and they have all done well so we're hoping to buy more this year.”

The trainer continued, “We don't have a big owner behind us so we are trying to find value. Basically, we don't look at the times. We just look for the ones who move nicely. We have to be shrewd–El Buffalo hung in his breeze because he cut his mouth. But we liked how he moved and we ended up buying him pretty cheaply. Hopefully we can find another.”

Cunha was not the only man returning to Marnane in search of more big-race riches. Trainer Ado McGuinness, who snapped up Rush Queen (Ire) (Ardad {Ire}) and Tiger Belle (Ire) (Cotai Glory {GB}) from Marnane last year, was busy scouting the barns.

Meanwhile, bloodstock agent Hubie de Burgh, who looks after the interests of Bronson Racing, the buyer of Givemethebeatboys (Ire) (Bungle Inthejungle {GB}), was also making the most of the occasion. 

De Burgh said, “Con is the best in the business at this sort of thing. But, at the end of the day, the results speak for themselves and buyers will return to a place that is having results on the track. We've been working with Con for years and he just keeps coming up with good horses.”

He added, “What's also so impressive about Con is, he doesn't have success by buying a lovely Dubawi (Ire) or something, he does it by going out and buying a bloody good-looking horse by a lesser stallion. We're involved in some small little way with Givemethebeatboys but how on earth did Con buy that horse for what he did as a yearling? I have no idea.

“Not only that but, we're down here in the middle of a hurricane, and not one of those young horses looked like they were going to buck their rider off. I don't know how he does it but it's just pure professionalism and the horses are a credit to him. Long may it last.”

McGuinness was similarly impressed by the professionalism on show, describing the four or five lots of two-year-olds that were put through their paces as “similar to old handicappers” given how not one of the youngsters as much as turned a hair.

But we'd all be kidding ourselves if we came away from the morning without acknowledging the huge degree of poignancy in the air given it is just five months since Theresa, Con's wife, passed away aged 61.

McGuinness said, “We've dealt with Con these past few years and have been successful. When you get results working with somebody, you're always more likely to come back. He's just a great guy.

“Man, he hasn't had an easy year but he's just a top-class man. To be able to pull this all together given what they have all been through in the past few months is incredible. Fair play to them.”


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