Published in the Nov. 2 issue of The Blood-Horse
Irish breeders Sean and Anne Coughlan aren't big when it comes to numbers. They own four mares, and Anne owns a substantial interest in prominent Irish stallion Indian Ridge. So it surprised more than a few when the couple played a big role on Breeders' Cup Day. Anne's turn came first. Indian Ridge, who stands at the Irish National Stud, sired NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) upset winner Domedriver. Several races later, High Chaparral, bred by her husband, captured the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) as the odds-on favorite three weeks after running third in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Lucien Barriere (Fr-I). "There was no doubt in my mind he was going to win the Turf," said Coughlan, who watched the race from his home near Newtown Kildare. "He would have won the Arc if he had a prep before it, but a sickness prevented him from doing so." High Chaparral's Turf victory for owners Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier of Irish-based Coolmore Stud proved historic. The 3-year-old son of Coolmore stallion Sadler's Wells became the first runner to win the Turf after completing the group I English/Irish Derby double. An Arc win would have made it even more special, because no Arc winner has ever won the Turf. High Chaparral also had been a top 2-year-old--winning the 2001 Racing Post Trophy (Eng-I) in the fall--and it was that victory that got Coolmore managing partner John Magnier thinking seriously about buying the colt's dam, Kasora, from Coughlan. Magnier approached Coughlan after the latter had sent Kasora to Coolmore to be bred to Sadler's Wells this year. "Mr. Magnier rang me up and asked if I was thinking about selling the mare," Coughlan said. "I wasn't thinking about selling her, but he gave me a price and I agreed on that one price." Although he sold Kasora, Coughlan feels secure about his chances for continued success as a breeder. "I have a yearling Indian Ridge half-sister and a Sadler's Wells filly born this year. The Indian Ridge will be sent to John Oxx for training." Kasora, a daughter of French champion Darshaan, whose sire, Shirley Heights, won both the 1978 English and Irish Derbys, is in foal to Sadler's Wells. It was Oxx who trained the Coughlans' biggest winner, 1995 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Ridgewood Pearl, and advised Sean Coughlan about buying Kasora. Bred by Sean Coughlan and raced by Anne, Ridgewood Pearl was 1995 European Horse of the Year. Coughlan used part of Ridgewood Pearl's $1.1 million in earnings to buy Kasora, whose dam, Kozana, was a champion in France. "John told me how good she was in training," Coughlan said. "She ended up breaking a leg, but was well-related." Coughlan bought Kasora for $476,564 at the 1996 Tattersalls December mixed sale from the Aga Khan's Gilltown Stud, Ireland. "Tim Vigors bought her for me," Coughlan said. "Tim was the former owner of Coolmore, and the one who coined the phrase 'Home of Champions.' " Coughlan also bought three other mares at the sale, one of which he sold soon after. "I paid 5,000 guineas for her, and a half-hour later, a man taps me on the shoulder and offers me £25,000 for her," he said. "I can't remember her name. I think she went to Japan." One of the other two, Mail Boat, has turned into a prominent stakes producer for the Coughlans. The mare's 2-year-old daughter, Mail The Desert, by Desert Prince, won the Moyglare Stud Stakes (Ire-I). High Chaparral went through the 2000 Tattersalls September yearling sale, where Coolmore associate Demi O'Byrne bought him for $395,226 from Mountain View Stud. Mountain View consigned High Chaparral for the Coughlans and boards their horses. The Coughlans still own Ridgewood Pearl and Mail Boat. The former is in foal to Bahri and will not be bred next year because of a late foaling date. The Coughlans plan to send her to Green Desert in 2004. Mail Boat's youngest offspring is a King's Best colt born this year. Mail Boat is in foal to Indian Ridge. Sadler's Wells, befitting his status as Europe's dominant stallion, was represented by several other Breeders' Cup contestants. The best performance of the others was turned in by Islington, who was third in the Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT). Islington, a two-time group I winner in England this year, is one of 23 stakes winners on the year for Sadler's Wells. The 21-year-old stallion reached added-money winner No. 208 when Susan Magnier's 2-year-old Brian Boru won the Racing Post Trophy the same day as the Breeders' Cup. The colt's victory is certain to have Coolmore looking ahead to next year.