A GOLDEN MOMENT Barry Maloney, who has strong Mayo links, owns Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Minella Indo.
RESIDENTS of the small townland of Ballyclogher in Balla had very good reason to celebrate Minella Indo’s Gold Cup success at Cheltenham last Friday.
That’s because the horse’s owner, well-known businessman, Barry Maloney, has strong family links to the area as his late father, John, was born and raised in the village.
Barry’s uncle, Seamus, was also a native of Balla while his uncle, Francis, is a Kiltimagh man.
Minella Indo, which was bought for €24,000 at the Tattersall Sales in November 2018, scooped more than €305,000 when he powered to victory in the biggest race of the Cheltenham Festival at odds of 9-1.
Barry Maloney (61) is also well-known in Ballina, as he and his family own the Mount Falcon Resort.
He is one of Ireland’s richest men.
“It’s just unbelievable, we’re just absolutely thrilled,” Mr Maloney told Mid West Radio on Sunday. “It was just an amazing day. It still hasn’t really sunk in and I’m sure it won’t for quite a while yet.
“He’d become the forgotten horse in the race in many ways. So we weren’t really on the radar, all the other ones were being discussed ahead of us. In one way that kind of suited us.
“We were very confident, he loves Cheltenham, and when we saw how well Allaho ran, and we’ve raced against him and beaten him three times, that gave us a lot of confidence as well.
“I have to say, Jack Kennedy gave him a fantastic ride from start to finish.
“It was just brilliant.”
The winning owner was born in the Middle East, went to school in Dublin, and graduated from UCD with an economics degree in 1980. He came to national prominence during his five-term year as CEO of ESAT Digifone, Ireland’s second GSM mobile operator at the time.
His love of racing came from his father.
“My dad got us all involved when we were fairly young,” he explained. “Since then we’ve all been entrapped by National Hunt racing, we’re not big flat people, but we love National Hunt. We’ve been incredibly lucky to have the horses we’ve had.
“Not to be there was devastating,” he added. “We’d be going there for 18 years in a row, my dad before he passed away, we brought him every year, and my uncle every year, so it was awful not to be there.
“But we did the best we could, I was with my brothers, we watched it. . It was second best, but a Gold Cup is a Gold Cup.
“It was a truly run race, ‘Minella’ is a deserving champ, and we’re delighted.”
He also revealed that he hopes to bring the Gold Cup winner to Ballina at some stage in the future, and that the Irish Gold Cup in Punchestown is likely to be up next for the 8-year-old, ‘assuming Minella has come out of last week’s race okay’.
Jeff Kidder wins at 80/1
MEANWHILE, there were also plenty of champagne corks popping in Breaffy and Achill last Tuesday when Jeff Kidder became the biggest-priced Festival winner in 30 years!
The rank outsider, which won the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle at a price of 80/1, is owned by London-based business partners, Albert Dravins from Breaffy and Eamon Scanlon from Achill.
“It was fantastic, unbelievable really. To have a horse in Cheltenham for the first time ever was a major thing for me, but I could never have dreamt of having a winner,” Albert told Mid West Radio, who explained that his wife, Siobhan, and Eamon’s wife, Anna, are also involved in the ownership of the horse.
“I bought him off Noel Meade last August,” said Albert. “We had a bit of bad luck with horses we had with him, through injuries and that. And he recommended that this would be a good replacement.
“He half sort of said, ‘I deserved one, considering the luck I had’.
“So I was delighted with how it all worked out.”