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Xtension - Goodwood - 29.07.09

Ballyphilip homebred Xtension wins the Chamapagne Stakes at Goodwood in July. His Compton Place half-brother sold for £120,000 at DBS last week

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham 


McCartans ensure one dream becomes two

MANAGING one stud alone is not an easy thing to accomplish and many in the industry would agree that cultivating two to a high standard is a rarity.

Yet that is exactly what Paul McCartan, with the help of his wife Marie, has achieved as manager of Denis Brosnan's Croom House Stud and owner of nearby Ballyphilip Stud.

The Limerick-based nurseries have already enjoyed a fruitful year on the track: Croom House graduate Cabaret was impressive when landing the Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown while Ballyphilip homebred Xtension looked potentially high-class when taking the Champagne Stakes at Goodwood.

Stags Leap, who was bred by McCartan in partnership with Paddy Twomey, also has a future judged on his two wins this season.

Croom House, which operates under the banner of Epona Bloodstock, has been home to hand-picked bloodstock for many years but Ballyphilip has had to do it the hard way, as McCartan explains:

"When Ballyphilip came into existence in 2000 - the year I joined Croom House and married my wife Marie - it was a 60-acre farm with no facilities for horses.

"Now it is 80 acres with 22 boxes, a lunge ring, walker, two all-weather paddocks and six keep safe yearling paddocks. I'm employed full time by CroomHouse so Ballyphilip is managed by Marie, who is assisted by Denis Lawlor. But I call in on a daily basis, and Marie and I discuss everything."

Both Paul and Marie own strong backgrounds in the industry. Paul's initial experiencewas gained working on farms in Britain, the US and New Zealand en route to spending six years as assistant manager to Alan Lillingston - 'the best stockman in the business ' - at Mount Coote Stud and eight years as manager at Glenview Stud.

Marie, on the other hand, earned a bachelor of equine science degree from Limerick University before working for Brian Meehan, Hagyard Davidson and McGee in Kentucky and Rathbarry Stud.

Although Ballyphilip is home to several seasonal boarders, the McCartan's own just five mares outright or in partnership, making their recent run of success all the more notable.

One of that five is Xtension's dam Great Joy, who was earmarked for the Croom House broodmare bandwhen she came on the market at the Tattersalls December Sale in 2003, However, when the Listed-placed daughter of Grand Lodge was knocked down to Epona Bloodstock for just 24,000gns, a change of heart followed, as McCartan explains:

"Great Joy was stakes-placed and her half-sister had bred the Group 1-placed Wathab. When we saw her, she had everything you would want in a mare; substance, good limbs, good bone and feminine looks.

"So I wanted to buy her for Croom House but when she was knocked down for less than we expected, Denis kindly allowed us to have her for Ballyphilip."

"Obviously, Great Joy is now a star after Xtension but we also own Saibhreas, the dam of Listed winner Hope And Fears, as well as Swingsky, the dam of Stags Leap," says McCartan. "We also pinhook some foals and of the nine yearlings we sold last year to have run, eight have won at least once."

That eight included a Ballyphilip treble last Wednesday led by Stags Leap. As a €110,000 Goffs February weanling, the son of Refuse To Bend represented a strong auction result for the stud but Xtension, who hails from Xaar's penultimate European crop, fell towards the other end of the spectrum, selling for €15,000 to Clive Cox at the Tattersalls Ireland September Sale.

"Xaar was a brilliant two-year-old and we also sold The Cheka to Eve Johnson Houghton, so we've had a bit of luck with him," says McCartan.

"Xtension was always an athletic and clean-winded colt. Like all the good ones, you wouldn't know he was there. He had a very good temperament and did all we asked him to do; exercise, relax in the paddock and eat plenty!"

Xtension has since proven to be a steal for connections but the McCartans were justly rewarded last week when his half-brother by Compton Place sold to Richard O'Gorman for £125,000.

McCartan says: "It was a great thrill to see the Compton Place sell so well and when Clive Cox and John Reid came over to congratulate us afterwards, I told Clive it was nothing like the buzz we got at Goodwood.

"It was something special to see Xtension put his head down and accelerate the way he did. We won't forget that for a long time."

The colt's sale capped a remarkable week for both studs as Croom House also sold adaughter of Invincible Spirit for £100,000. However, McCartan is under no illusions as to this autumn could hold for vendors.

"The sales this year are going to be tough and you'll need good horses to get through," he says. "Having said that, I think our draft at Croom House is the best for some time as among our yearlings left to sell are five Galileos, including a three-quarter brother to Damson, and two very nice Pivotal yearlings for Newmarket."




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