‘They seem to be going down well’ – Harding family hoping for Derby Sale success | Bloodstock News

Alex Cairns/ITM

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Marie Harding and the Sholokhov gelding who shares his breeders with Noble Yeats

Marie Harding and the Sholokhov gelding who shares his breeders with Noble Yeats

Alex Cairns/ITM

By Aisling Crowe

The second Saturday of April this year will live long in the memory of Marie Harding and her family, the date, April 9, etched in gold on the calendar.

Two graduates of her Glen Stables in Castletownroche brought the curtain down on Aintree’s Grand National meeting in the most spectacular fashion, with Noble Yeats’s emotional triumph in the world’s most famous race quickly followed by the victory of Lookaway in the concluding Grade 2 bumper.

Both horses were sold by Harding at Tattersalls Ireland store sales and the Cork woman, who has consigned her strongest and largest team of horses this sales season, was in reflective mood on the eve of the Derby Sale, where Glen Stables offers 14 horses.

“It was fantastic, the two of them winning one after the other was really unbelievable,” she smiles.

Lookaway, the best runner sired by Ask, was sold by Harding’s operation to an alliance of Wexford point-to-point trainers for just €6,200 at the May Store Sale of 2020.

Despite not costing the earth, Harding and her team are not surprised by the talent the unbeaten Lookaway has displayed, first for Sean Doyle and latterly Neil King.

John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)

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Lookaway wins Aintree's Grade 2 bumper on Grand National day

Lookaway wins Aintree’s Grade 2 bumper on Grand National day

John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)

“Lookaway was always special from day one,” she says. “He was such a good mover and had such a presence about him. Everything he did at home and at the sales was brilliant, every one of us felt that there was something about him.

“His point-to-point was at our local track [Kildorrery]the Wexford boys brought him up there, and I don’t think he saw another horse, he started in front and finished in front without coming off the bridle.

“I think he’ll be a very good horse in time. We’re really looking forward to the future with him.”

Noble Yeats, meanwhile, was the youngest horse in more than 80 years to triumph in the Grand National, the bold strategy employed by Emmet Mullins and Paul Byrne providing retiring amateur rider Sam Waley-Cohen with an ending scripted in Hollywood.

That story, or more accurately the seven-year-old’s role in it, began in Castletownroche, birthplace of Jonjo O’Neill, where Noble Yeats was bred and reared before going to Glen Stables to be prepared for the August Sale.

Harding was familiar with his family, being bred as they are by his neighbours, and having prepared relations for the sales recognized some family traits in the future Aintree hero.

“It was unreal, and for Noble Yeats to be bred by neighbors as well was special,” she says. “They sent him to me to prepare him for the sales and sell him, I’ve had a few of that family and they have all looked useful.”

The season was not all about that one afternoon at Aintree in April, as glorious as it was. John McConnell’s Grade 2 River Don and Listed Perth novice hurdle winner Mahler Mission was also sold by Glen Stables on behalf of his breeder Ivor Dulohery at the 2019 August National Hunt Sale.

With those recent flagbearers so alive in the memories of buyers’ minds, it is no wonder that purchasers have a path worn to Barns F and G, where the Glen Stables’ draft for this week’s Derby Sale is stationed.

“We’ve been very busy and they seem to be going down well for the most part, so hopefully that’s a good sign for the sale,” says an optimistic Harding, in the summer sun of Ratoath.

Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

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Noble Yeats and Sam Waley-Cohen galloped into the Aintree history books

Noble Yeats and Sam Waley-Cohen galloped into the Aintree history books

Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

However, it is not just recent success that draws the attention of buyers. Harding’s pedigree of her, as well as her track record of producing talented horses, is respected and recognised. Noble Yeats is not the first Grand National winner to have come through Glen Stables, for Monty’s Pass began his education de ella with her father de ella, who also started the career of one of the sport’s legendary horses.

She says: “We’re a family operation, my father used to break and train point-to-pointers and it continued from there. He started off Dawn Run and Monty’s Pass, and a few horses like that.

“We’re a big family and half of us ended up working with horses. I took over at home training a few point-to-pointers, breaking horses and doing a few for the sales, and we seem to add to that each year .”

That growth has been particularly noticeable this year, with larger drafts than ever before from Glen Stables for each of the main store sales. The level they have reached now is one that Harding is comfortable with, though she feels becoming even larger is not a path she wants to take.

“We’ve had big drafts all year and it’s getting bigger every year so it’s about trying to manage them at this stage to stop it from getting too big,” she says.

The reasoning behind this is simple. Individual attention for the horses and clients is paramount for Harding, and if numbers became greater than they currently are, she feels that it would impact on their ability to provide this.

“We’re still a small operation in comparison to some of the boys and we don’t want to get too big because it’s hard to give the personal touch when you get too many of them,” she says. “We’re as big as we want to be really.”

Tattersalls Ireland

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Lot 322: Gelding by Getaway out of a half-sister to Cue Card

Lot 322: Gelding by Getaway out of a half-sister to Cue Card

Tattersalls Ireland

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