An assessment of all point-to-point winning four-year-old mares for a ten-year period covering Autumn 2008 to Autumn 2017.
“Though patience be a tired mare, yet she will plod.”
The above Shakespearean quote is not entirely apposite to my research but I suggest it has an application as a footnote to this article.
Ever since I attended my local Kilmoganny Hunt point-to-point fixture at Gurteen Castle near Kilsheelan in Co. Tippeary in 2010 I have been fascinated by the subsequent racetrack careers of autumn-winning four-year-old mares and have followed their careers closely for quite a number of years.
What was particularly eye-catching that day in Kilsheelan about the winning mare, Baby Shine, owned, bred and trained by the O’Donnell family, was the fact that she put up a very impressive performance to beat the geldings and this, to say the least, is not an everyday event. In fact, since the season of 2008/09 I can only find two other instances of the girls putting the boys in their place and both occurred within two weeks of one another in autumn 2016. Redemption Song scored at Dowth Hall for Denis Hogan in late October and just two weeks later Ashleigh Murphy’s If You Say Run picked up the maiden at Ballinaboola. Each of these three mares sold on to continue their careers in the UK and, to date, all have won at least two races and have an aggregate score of twelve wins under Rules on their dance cards. Their average highest rating achieved has been a very respectable 130.
Apart from the above three exceptions there have been a further sixty-two winning performances by four-year-old mares in maidens restricted to that sex and age-group and I have researched the total number according to:
Cost as a store
Point-to-point rating achieved (Racing Post)
Auction price achieved post victory
Winners under Rules and race ratings
Not many of these mares were expensive and in fact prior to November 2016, Colin Bowe’s Our Victoria had been the most expensive store purchase at just €16,000 in 2005 as a foal and her subsequent exploits winning five races needs little introduction. A handful of more expensive mares have made their mark since 2016 but, overall, the average cost of a winning four-year-old winning mare that passed through a ring prior to a winning point career as a four-year-old was just €7,200. Most of the winners were either home-bred or, presumably, regarded as a “hospital pass” to the handler at that time such was the poor opinion of young mares in that particular sphere of the sport.
Winning point ratings:
My regard for the compilers of ratings for these mares is very high as they have displayed an acuity and accuracy allocating winning ratings that has stood the test of time. Bearing in mind that a number of the 2017 winning mares have yet to race, with the exception of Jonjo O’Neill’s Rosie McQueen, every mare rated in excess of 81 has subsequently scored under Rules. With two second-placed finishes over hurdles it will be no surprise if Rosie McQueen soon gives the compilers a nap hand. Of just two autumn 2017 mares rated 82 or higher, Colin Bowe has retained Western Victory and I am particularly keen on this man as a trainer of National Hunt fillies and following two excellent introductory runs, I fully expect Western Victory to follow in the footsteps of previous Bowe winners that won four-year-old mares maidens such as the above-mentioned Our Victoria, Grade One-winning Askanna and Regal D’Argent.
To complete the statistical analysis based on ratings, sixteen of twenty mares rated 81 or higher have scored under Rules and this figure remains a very respectable 68% (23/34) when one includes a mark of 80. These are impressive figures and virtually guarantee track success for the potential investor.
Again, these results speak for themselves and, again, Rosie McQueen is the outstanding anomaly so far.
From publicly available databases, a total of twenty five winning mares have subsequently sold for an aggregate total of £1.45m and this equates to an average price per mare of almost £58,000. However, prior to the 2017 season, the highest price achieved at auction was for the Willie Mullins-trained dual winner, Threeswallowsnick, at a hammer price of £110,000 in autumn 2015 and prior to going lame for new handler Gordon Elliott was threatening to be a handsome investment for Gigginstown.
There is no doubt that the present exuberant market for winning pointers has skewed the average sales results as three individual mares this season alone have sold for £110,000 (Daylight Katie-Aidan Fitzgerald-R81), £175,000 (Queens Cave-Aidan Fitzgerald-R85 and already a winner on her sole start for David Pipe) and an eye-watering £240,000 (Lust For Glory-Denis Murphy-R82) who has also crossed the water to continue her career. Overall, however, the ratings agency and the buyers have tended to get things right.
Racecourse results and ratings:
Fifty six winning four-year-old winning mares have run on the racecourse proper and, to date, thirty have been successful. As evidenced above, the higher the rating awarded, the higher the chance of success.
The highest average handicap marks or ratings awarded to these mares have been 120 for pointers rated between 81 to 85 and this falls, as expected, to 111 if the minimum point rating is lowered to a mark of 80. Overall, I think that these ratings provide sound evidence that the ratings systems in place have been and are reliable. Despite present “frothy” prices, one cannot point to what one might have been understandable temptation to introduce rating inflation in recent times, a commendable consistency. A mark of 85 remains the benchmark and one can safely rely on this judgement.
For those seeking an occasion to relieve one’s local bookmaker of some of his ill-gotten gains I suggest keeping on the right side of Lust For Victory, Western Victory (NB), Rosie McQueen, Danse Idol, Malachys Girl and Lorvon Pearl.
Back to the breeding shed:
And so to my quotation from Henry V above. I examined the record of the above 4-y-o winning mares that have subsequently retired to stud and the picture that emerges is very clear to me. My records date back to mares born in 2004 and yet, to date, not a single winning track foal has been produced by any of the winning mares. In fact, only the Askanna (born 2005) has produced a single track runner and he was 0/3 after costing €60,000 as a 3-y-o. Askanna has been a wise retiree to the breeding shed in that her first four foals generated €145,000 in sales but she is by some way the exception to the rule. The sales results for virtually every other mare have been disappointing and this leads me to the conclusion that these point winners should be sold to race as anyone harbouring dreams of producing future champions will have a ten-year wait and at that is likely to be disappointed.
So, sell your winning mare would be my advice!
How would the punter fare?
If one likes an occasional wager and at the same time likes to keep an eye on the future racecourse careers of these mares, betting to level-stakes on each mare up to their first 5 outings on the track produces the following results:
|Rating||No. Of qualifiers||Runs||Returns (ROI)|
Better than money in the bank!
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