Laois has a little known connection to Native River, this year's Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.
Native River's mother, Native Mo, was actually bred in Bordwell, Clough, Ballacolla by Tom Bowe. Bowe bred the mare in Laois in the 1990s, and sold her at the Goff's sales in 1997 as a yearling.
The Racing Post reported Native Mo's story, and she was actually sold at that sales event for just £3,000 to George Lane. He very quickly sold her to Fred Mackey and his wife Maureen, who Native Mo, was eventually named after in honour of her sire, Be My Native.
Fred Mackey took her back to his premises in Co. Down where he planned to put her into action as a point-to-pointer. However, the mare managed to injure herself by crashing into a gate at Mackey's yard, and so training her was then out of the question.
The Laois bred mare was then utilised as a breeding mare herself, and Mackey told the Racing Post recently, "I have never had a mare who could walk like this one - she had such a beautiful stride and it was a pity that she couldn't race, but we were lucky to save her."
Save her they did and Mackey's love of French breeding saw him send Native Mo to Paddy Byrne's Park House Stud in County Carlow to be covered by Indian River, and "they clicked," Fred said.
The subsequent foal turned out to be the 2018 Timico Gold Cup winner Native River - a beautiful looking horse with his burnished amber coat, white blaze and four white socks. Native River eventually went through the Fairyhouse sales ring in November 2010, selling for just €6,000. Denis Ahern trained him for his point-to-point debut here.
Trained by Colin Tizzard and owned by Garth and Anne Broom, Native River made virtually all under Richard Johnson to repel Might Bite and capture the much coveted 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Third in the Gold Cup in 2017, Native River was last Saturday a top-priced 8-1 to retain the crown next year.
Laois also has something to toast - his now 22-year old Laois-bred mammy!
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