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Cosgrave: It was superb the way she won!

Jerry Cosgrave a retired builder, who hails from Banbridge in Co. Down enjoyed a special moment this week when a former point-to-point graduate of his, Honeysuckle, captured the Grade 1 Close Brothers mares’ hurdle on day one of the Cheltenham Festival.

The daughter of Sulamani powered home, up the hill in an impressive fashion battling it out with the Wille Mullins-trained star mare Benie Des Dieux, only to come out on top in a spectacular finish.

“It was superb the way she won! I love to see horses that I have handled to do well under rules,” explains Cosgrave.

Although the six-year-old mare has preserved her unbeaten record since winning her four-year-old mares’ maiden point-to-point at Dromahane in 2018, Cosgrave didn’t realize back then what a special mare he had on his hands.

“When I had her she was a light mare and she needed a bit of time, as there wasn’t all that much of her there.
“She did everything well at home without being really flashy, so I thought she would go onto run well on the track but at the time I didn’t realize what a superstar I had on my hands.

“I have had other horses before where you know from their work in those last two or three furlongs that they could be something special, but she never gave away too much.”

A season before Honeysuckle graduated from points The Co. Down native had sent out another very special horse in Battleoverdoyen to score in his four-year-old maiden. After his success at Loughanmore he was sold for £235,000, before going onto to becoming quite successful under rules.

With a number of graded successes underneath his belt he went off as a 7/1 shot in the RSA  Insurance novices chase however he only managed to return in fourth place.

“Battleoverdoyen is a top-class horse and when I had him at home, everything was so effortless to him, you could have ridden him out in a head collar and he really felt like he was going to be a winner.

 “I actually thought when he was coming to the third last, he was going to win the race, as staying would be one of his stronger qualities but unfortunately he just faded, so he mustn’t have been fully right.”

Recently Jerry has been enjoying more success between the flags with Ballela, who scored in a five-and-six-year-old mares’ maiden at Tyrella.

“I was definitely expecting her to be bang there, she won very impressively, and she looks a nice mare in the making.

“She’s a great mare at home and jumps great, I thought maybe she might have needed the ground a bit softer, but she ran perfectly on it, so that’s a good sign that she can to handle any type of ground.

“I hope to sell her, I have a few interested in her at home, or else I will head to the sales with her. She won’t be run again until she has gone through a sales ring but hopefully, she will be sold.”

Mark O’Hare, who recently had a winner in each of the four decades was aboard on the day and has enjoyed a close association with Jerry down through the years.

“Mark rides all of my horses if he can unless he is off riding for Noel Meade on the track. He rides out at my yard every day and he keeps a couple of his own horses with me also.

The Co. Down native currently has over ten horses in training and even manages to ride out a couple of lots himself.

“I have a lot of young stock and I have about 10-12 horses in my yard for racing and generally most of them would go point-to-pointing.

“I don’t own all the horses myself, so it just depends on the owners, some owners prefer not to go point-to-pointing as they feel they might be good enough to go straight to the track. I generally like to start them off in the point-to-point field though.

“I still ride out myself, but I am choosey in what I ride, I try and stick to the quieter ones as I am not getting any younger.”

The bad weather conditions this season has prevented Jerry from running his four-year-olds earlier then he would like, and he is hoping he could have another potential superstar such as Honeysuckle or Battleoverdoyen.

“I have four four-year-olds to run before the end of the season and hopefully there is another superstar there for me to look forward to.

“Their shaping up nicely at the moment, I had planned to get them out a bit earlier but unfortunately the weather this year has set me back a couple of weeks as there were a couple of days schooling that I had planned to go to and it’s been cancelled.

“I was aiming to run in Loughbrickland on Saturday but that’s now been postponed, so it’s yet another setback.

Jerry has his son Richard, who is his assistant trainer, on hand to help him with the running of the yard. 

“Richard was riding on the flat over in England for a good couple of years and enjoyed a couple of winners, he became too heavy for the flat, so he tried his hand at national hunt riding for a while.

“When he was in England, he worked with the likes of Jimmy Magee in Lambourn and Harry Wittington, so he gained a wealth of experience when over there.

“Last year I rang him up and told him there was a job here at home for him and he’s been helping me out ever since. Its been great having him in the yard and I have to give him credit, where there’s credit due.


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