AMID scenes of great emotion and jubilation with the Offaly Rover ringing in Galway ears once again, an Offaly bred and owned horse won an incredible three races at the iconic Ballybrit race course last week.
One Cool Poet is owned by a local consortium of business men and completely defied expectations with his hat trick of successes.
While doubles are quite common, it is only the second time that a hat trick has happened at Galway and it is the first time it has happened in the one discipline – the John Breslin owned Busted Tycoon's hat trick in 2013 came over both jumps and on the flat whereas One Cool Poet's three wins all came on the flat.
The odds for the three races also give an indication of the way the horse defied expectations: 10-1 down to 7-1 for the Caulfield Industrial Handicap of €17,000 for four year olds plus on Tuesday, July 30; 4-1 for the Open Gate Pure Handicap of €17,000 for three year olds plus on Thursday, August 1 and then 11-4 for the record equalling win in the McDonogh Capital Investments Handicap of €17,000 for three year olds plus on Saturday.
It is an Offaly owned and bred horse – bred by Caroline Brazil at Killurin and sold by Caroline and Donal Brazil to the quartet as a foal: One Cool Poet was the first foal out of the stallion, Urban Poet.
It is owned by four very well known local men in Tullamore: John Flanagan jnr, a member of the Flanagan Property Group in Tullamore; Ollie Ryan, a Kinnitty native who has helped develop a branch of veterinary supply shops in the midlands; Paul Devery, a Pullough native who has an accountancy business in Tullamore and a well known local business man, Shay Gillen, a Sligo native who has lived just outside Tullamore for a few years.
“It is incomprehensible what happened,” remarked a still stunned Ollie Ryan on Monday. “It has only happened once before in Irish racing and this is the first time in the same discipline. He was carrying penalties all the time, penalised every time he ran.”
One Cool Poet started racing at 2 years of age and is 7 now, having missed a couple of years out with an injury.
His only previous win was on the flat in Limerick in 2015, when he was trained by ALT Moore. Meath trainer Matthew Smith took over after he missed 2016 and 2017 through injury, returning to competitive racing in 2018. He has raced a total of 32 times, winning 4 and having 13 places. On the flat in Ireland, One Cool Poet has now won four times and placed 9; he has raced 8 hurdles races, is still waiting for the first win and has had two places; while he has had one place in 2 chase races and has raced once over fences in Britain, placing in that.
He was ridden by Limerick jockey, Billy Lee in all three races in Galway.
There were great scenes in Galway as One Pool Poet completed his unexpected run of success. With his jubilant and shocked owners and supporters looking on, there was a never to be forgotten sight on Saturday as Kinnitty man Pat Delaney sang the Offaly Rover after the third win – Delaney had previously sang the Offaly Rover in front of Galway ears on the steps of the Hogan Stand in 1981 after Offaly had shocked them in the All-Ireland senior hurling final that year. A brilliant centre back on that great team, Delaney's storming run up the field had led to Johnny Flaherty's all important goal near the end as Offaly transformed impending defeat into glorious victory.
They hadn't travelled to Galway with a set out plan to run in all three races – indeed it is very unusual for owners and trainers to run a horse in three races at the one meeting, even over a few days.
Ryan explained: “It was a day by day thing. You couldn't script that because of the entry system. He had to win one to get into the next one. Then we had to see if he was well and fit after each race. If he was not right, he would not have run. On Saturday, he was at his best ever so the racing obviously did him good. The last race was his toughest race. Horses are laid out at Galway to win over a mile and 3 and a mile and 4, different disciplines.”
Asked about the standard of racing, he put it in GAA terms: “They are all high grade handicaps, it is a good standard. They are all senior matches. It is not intercounty but it is senior. The next step is grade listed.”
He pointed out that One Cool Poet is now only 10lbs off being listed for grade standard races and he believes there is a “fair chance” that he will get up there.
His preparation race was over fences at Tipperary on July 21 when second to the JP McManus Touch Base – it was unusual for a horse to prepare for a flat race over fences but it worked out.
The plan now is to run One Cool Poet at the Champions Weekend at Leopardstown on September 14 but the owners are really taking it one day at a time with their prized horse.
He could have another three to four years racing but Ryan commented: “We just don't know. If the injury recurs, it is game over. After every race, we don't know if the call will come that the injury is back. So far it hasn't.”
He praised the trainer, Matthew Smith, describing him as a “very good lad” and also acknowledged the input of Belmont man, Martin Kilduff, who looks after the horse when he is not in training.
One Cool Poet earnd €30,141 for the three wins in Galway – he has career earnings of €59,830.