14 March 2018

Paul Rothwell bred his first Cheltenham Festival winner on Tuesday in the shape of Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hero Summerville Boy (IRE), who also won the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle earlier in the season. Rothwell, who also stands the Festival star’s sire Sandmason at his family’s Lacken Stud in County Wexford, is hoping to repeat the achievement on Wednesday, as another Lacken-bred in Black Op (IRE) contests the Grade 1 Ballymore Hurdle.


Congratulations on breeding Summerville Boy (IRE). Were you there to cheer him home?

Unfortunately I had to cheer him on from home, though I’ll be there on Friday to support Road To Respect (IRE), who my cousin bred.

How did you fancy his chances going into the race?

I thought he had a very good chance, given luck in running. To be honest, I was surprised by his price, having won the Tolworth Hurdle and beaten Kalashnikov (IRE) that day. Tom George has done an excellent job with him, but he doesn’t attract the same attention as the likes of Willie Mullins or Nicky Henderson. Maybe then, he’d have been a much shorter price.

Is this your first Cheltenham Festival winner as a breeder?

It’s my first winner, though my father bred the winner of the National Hunt Challenge Cup in 1991 in Smooth Escort (IRE). He was trained by Mrs Di Haine and ridden by Tony Martin.

You also bred Black Op (IRE), who runs in Wednesday’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. How do you think he’ll run?

Samcro (IRE) looks an exceptional talent, but it’s very hard to judge with novices as they’ve never met. Whether Black Op (IRE) is good enough, I don’t know, but I think he has to have a cracking chance.

Both are by Sandmason, who you stand at Lacken Stud. Have you seen a rise in bookings since Summerville Boy (IRE)’s Tolworth success?

We’ve had a good few calls since then and we’ve already covered a few mares, but national hunt mares are generally covered later and after the Festival win, I’d be hopeful he’d get sent more mares. 

It’s been unfortunate that he’s received such small numbers (Summerville Boy’s dam was one of 37 in 2010), and breeding is a numbers game. It’s even tougher with national hunt horses, as there’s so much luck involved in keeping them sound. From small crops, he’s only had about 20 runners. Donncadh Doyle has a full-brother to Black Op (IRE) who he liked a lot, but as luck would have it, he got injured and died before he could show it.

How would you describe Sandmason’s stock?

Sandmason is 21 now, but he’s looking very well. At 16.2, he’s a big horse and his stock look a lot like him- they’re good-looking, racy types. Black Op (IRE) would be a particularly big horse.

You bred Summerville Boy (IRE) out of a half-sister to the dam of Annacotty (IRE), though you bought the mare long before her relative’s success. What drew you to the mare?

Her own dam was the Grade 2 performer Mulloch Brae and the pedigree is impressive all the way through. Suny House, herself, is an attractive, strong type, but I suppose you’re always taking a chance in this game, even if all the evidence is there!

Do you still have the mare? Have we any siblings to look forward to?

We do- she was actually covered by Sandmason just three days ago. We have a four-year-old full-brother to Summerville Boy (IRE) who will probably go to the sales in the coming months. He is very similar in looks to his brother, though he’d be a slightly more compact individual. We also have a two-year-old half-brother by El Salvador (IRE)- we can’t be too greedy and only use our own stallions!

How about the dam of Black Op (IRE)?

We also have her and she’s in foal to Califet. She has a two-year-old filly by Morozov and we’ll wait and see what we do with her, depending on what else the mare produces. 

Give us a Sandmason horse to look out for in the future.

Willie Mullins has a nice mare called Masons Daughter (IRE). She won her bumper at Listowel and connections liked her enough to pitch her at Listed company next time out. She finished third on her hurdle debut in February and I think there’s more to come. 

Tell us a bit more about the history of Lacken Stud and its stallions.

We’re based in County Wexford and though our family have always traded in horses throughout the years, we are predominantly farmers. My father, John, had a trainers licence and we often trained those we didn’t sell as three or four-year-olds. 

Hubbly Bubbly was the last stallion we had here before Sandmason and he sired Graded winners such as Idle Talk (Ire), Cloudy Bays (IRE) and Smart Talk (IRE). Beau Charmeur was probably the best stallion we’ve stood, producing top-class chasers like Smooth Escort (IRE), Sparkling Flame (IRE), Una’s Choice (IRE) and Willsford (IRE).

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