Gary Devlin’s ownership story so
far has a global feel to it and a trip across the Atlantic is now marked in the
diary following A Case Of You’s unforgettable Prix de l’Abbaye triumph last
weekend, writes Paul Martin.
The three-year-old, with Ronan Whelan on board, produced a sublime sprint finish to pip Air De Valse on the line and land both Devlin and trainer Ado McGuinness their maiden Group 1 triumphs as the sole Irish victors on Arc weekend.
Trips to the Melbourne Cup while living in Australia inspired Devlin and his brother Mark to become owners upon returning to Ireland and having conquered Paris, A Case Of You and connections are now bidding for Stateside success in the Breeders’ Cup as
the miles rack up on a fairytale journey.
This sprinter deals in furlongs rather than miles, however, and after a near miss at the Flying Five on Irish Champions Weekend the colt was not to be denied an Abbaye success which still has Devlin pinching himself.
“Being a Group 1-winning owner doesn’t sound real,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet how big an achievement it is for the yard and Ado.
“For these guys that live and breathe it all day, it’s such an achievement and one not a lot of people can say they’ve done.
“I don’t even think I can remember the winning moment itself, it was that much of a blur.
“I didn’t think he’d got up but Ronan was very confident and they called it [the photo finish] very quickly, so we didn’t have to wait around too long.
“There were a group of about 20 of us who had travelled and the buzz was amazing. There were a lot of Irish fans around the parade ring and it was absolutely electric.
“At one point, I had three boys with me in a headlock. It was crazy.
“I met a guy on the plane home the next day and he said the only way he could describe it was like an Irish Gold Cup winner coming into the parade ring – and I think it’s a fair comparison.”
Devlin acquired A Case Of You from John McConnell in March to continue an association with McGuinness which stretches back two decades.
To say the colt has surpassed expectations since would be an understatement, particularly over the shorter distances Devlin hadn’t expected him to excel in.
“He was a horse Ado contacted us about and we’ve always been interested in sprinters, so we thought we could stretch to it,” he explained.
“We always thought he was more of a seven-furlong horse so when they said he was going for the Flying Five I wasn’t sure about it but there weren’t a lot of races available.
“He was certainly quick enough, though, and Ado knew he’d improved since March/April time.
“When he came second in the Flying Five, Ronan was very much of the opinion he should have won it and said he left it too late – he was very hard on himself in the parade ring.
“Ado was very confident in supplementing him for the Abbaye and I didn’t need any persuading.
“It’s a race I’ve always watched. I love sprinters and I’ve always wanted a runner in it, never mind winning it.
“We’ve had plenty of premier handicappers with Ado over the past 20 years but this is the first very decent quality Stakes horse.”
The colt is now in high demand and Devlin confirmed they will keep him in training for next year, with more Group 1 sprints in sight.
Before then, however, is a trip to Del Mar for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint which will see Devlin and his merry crew reunite in the hope of a trip abroad to rival the Paris jaunt.
“All I’ve been doing for the past two days is trying to organise transport,” he said.
“The same 20 people want to go – they didn’t need a lot of convincing!
“The Breeders’ Cup will be an amazing experience, definitely the pinnacle for me so far, and you’d have to give him a great chance looking at the field.
“It’s been an amazing year so far with plenty of winners and this has just topped it off.”
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