Fermoy publican's 'Avondhu Lady' wins the day!
It was a real case of the small men beating the big boys, when Fermoy publican Richie Flynn took his mare Avondhu Lady to Naas last Saturday.
The nine-year-old mare beat off stiff opposition, including from the 9/10 Willie Mullins favourite Tarla, to lift the Opera Hat Mares Chase. Avondhu Lady battled it out with Byerley Babe right to the end to win by a neck at the line.
"It was a fantastic day out. We're only a small operation and to take on and beat the big boys was great. We're over the moon," he told The Avondhu.
Richie has had the 15 hands mare since 2008, when she was three. She's daughter of the renowned Beneficial. He bought her, unbroken, from local breeder Noel Fenton and she's trained by Noel's brother, the well known trainer David Fenton and David's son Shane. The lads are all friends.
Richie says it was over a few pints one night that Noel talked him into buying Avondhu Lady. He has a running joke that Noel took advantage of his inebriated state to convince him it was a good idea! It certainly turned out all to the good for Richie.
He's always had an interest in horses and was regularly taken as a child to point to point races by his later father Tommy. His Dad formed a syndicate in 2001 with the mare Buddy's Toy and "it led on from there," Richie says. He believes his Dad and his uncle 'Danger' Flynn were looking down on him during last Saturday's race and that they'd be very proud of the win.
Last Saturday was Avondhu Lady's third chase win. She's also won two hurdles and two point-to-points and had a win in Cork in January.
"The last five years have been fantastic. We've had great times with her. She's so game and so tough, she runs her heart out" Richie said.
The graded black type mare is nine this year and is due to go to stud in March and be retired in April. Before that though Richie and David hope to give her another run. Richie revealed that they haven't ruled out the Grand National for the mare this year but it's more likely they'll put her in the Grade 3 John and Chich Fowler Memorial Mares Chase at Fairyhouse, a grade 3 race she came second in last year.
Last Saturday's win in Naas was great for the family, friends and pub patrons. The win and the mare's previous successes have created a terrific buzz, Richie says; it's a real talking point and there's a huge amount of goodwill towards them, not least, Richie laughs, because punters have won a few bob backing his 'lady'! There was great celebrations at the pub upon their return last Saturday night.
Among the revellers and one of the first to congratulate Richie was councillor Frank O'Flynn who said great credit was due to Richie and trainer David Fenton for their outstanding success. The win was great for small owners and trainers, he said.
Avondhu Lady was ridden in Saturday's race by young jockey Mark Enright, who'd fought his way back to fitness after being out of action for a number of months last year because of injury. Richie wanted him to ride Avondhu Lady and promised him he'd be back to him when he recovered. He was delighted to have him on Saturday last and credits Mark with getting the best out of her.
Richie, who also has two brood mares, says he named the horse after the owner of the premises where his Avondhu Bar is located, Angela Donnellan. "She's a real lady, I have great respect for her" he says. So Avondhu it was, after his pub, and 'lady' after Angela.
Richie says his success with Avondhu Lady is all thanks and credit to Noel, David and Shane. The horse "has been exceptional." All good things must come to an end though, and there'll be only a couple more outings before Avondhu Lady is retired. "It'll be very hard to replace her," he says.
Thursday 13th February 5:21pm