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Paco Boy - Royal Ascot - 16.06.09

Paco Boy takes the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. He was bred by Joan Browne, who has never owned more than two mares.

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham 

 

'Hobby' breeder living life in the fast lane

PACO BOY'S optimum trip has been the subject of hot debate all season. Is he purely a 7f specialist or does he genuinely stay a mile? The colt, whose Queen Anne Stakes victory seemed to corroborate the latter argument, has the chance to put the issue to bed for good in Wednesday's BGC Sussex Stakes.

Amid the discussion, one voice has goneunheard - until now. What does the colt's breeder, Joan Browne, think?

"When I put his dam Tappen Zee, a dual 7f winner, to Desert Style, a sharp two-year-old who won the Phoenix Sprint Stakes the following year, I was expecting to produce a sprinter," she says.

"And although Paco Boy has won over a mile twice now, I'd still be inclined to think he is better over a furlong less. It's a shame we didn't have a proper chance to see how he appreciated 6fin the July Cup, where I thought he was held up too far back yet ran on to finish less than three lengths behind the winner."

Paco Boy is the best, but by no means the only talented horse to emerge from a mini-dynasty cultivated by Browne, who with her late husband Nicholas ran a mixed farm in Walterstown, Co. Louth. She has never owned more than two mares and describes her breeding ventures as "a hobby - a serious hobby."

Her association with the family began in 1979, when Nicholas Browne paid Ir2,800gns for Tappen Zee's dam Rossaldene, a then four-year-old half-sister to Penny God (trumpeted by Timeform's Racehorses of 1977 as "the best two-year-old in Hungary in 1975") and the winner of a maiden race at two for Paco Boy's trainer Richard Hannon.

The Mummy's Pet mare was in foal to Moulton, and though the product of that mating failed to set the world alight, her subsequent foals did a lot better. She produced 14 foals, 11 of which raced, eight of which won races. The best were Listed-placed juvenile Greens Ferneley, a son of Taufan; Regiment, a son of Shaadi who won the Easter Stakes, and Cape Town, a winner of the European Free Handicap who also finished third in Bachir's Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Cape Town was also trained by Hannon, and shares his sire with Paco Boy. On mating plans, Browne says: "I tend to like using either first-season sires, as their progeny often seem to do well in the sale ring, or proven sires. We read and re-read the credentials of at least 20 stallions before plumping for one and if we come up with an above average horse we will go back to the sire - so it was an obvious decision to take Tappen Zee to Desert Style after Cape Town's accomplishments."

After failing to produce a foal after Paco Boy, Tappen Zee died earlier this year at the age of 23. "She had always suffered from fibroids in her uterus, which made it hard for her to get in foal, but they became cancerous and she had to be put down," Browne says.

That leaves her with one mare, Tappen Zee's Common Grounds half-sister Grey Patience. The 14-year-old mare has had her producing skills well advertised, as dam of a brace of winners and grand-dam of top German sprinter Electric Beat, now a stallion at Gestüt Directa near Bremen.

Grey Patience's yearling by One Cool Cat will be consigned by to Goffs this autumn by Browne - "I'm only happy if I prepare the horses myself," she says. The colt was unsold at €7,500 at last year's Goffs November sale, where Paco Boy had been bought for €18,000 three years earlier.

"When Nicholas was alive, we would often consign the colts as yearlings, but since his death I have sold them as foals," Browne says. "It isn't worth the risk of losing keep costs - it's better to receive €20,000 for them as a foal and not have to worry, than €30,000 as a yearling."

Although Browne has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Paco Boy's form - "I have two books full of newspaper clippings to show the grandchildren" - she has not seen the colt run in the flesh. "I watch the races at home on television," she says. "My son David comes over and, although I get a great kick out of watching him, I get too excited.

"I can't bear to watch at the beginning of the race and it is only towards the end when David is shouting him home that I can look!" However, she says that, should Paco Boy run at the Breeders' Cup meeting at Santa Anita later this year, she will pack her binoculars and make the tripto cheer on the jewel in the crown of her ‘serious hobby'.

 

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