Co. Tipperary trainer Andrew Slattery won the Tote Rockingham in 2016 with Sors and he is set to take his chance in the race again this weekend at The Curragh. Andrew answers some of our questions ahead of the biggest weekend in Irish racing – Derby Weekend.
Sors won the Tote Rockingham handicap last year, he’s entered again on Sunday at the Curragh. What kind of form is he in?
He’s in great form, he’s had a few runs, and this has been his aim all year. We hope we get a good draw and the rest will up to him on the day. Killian Leonard rode him last year to win this race and he will ride him again on Sunday. It was always the plan to have Kilian ride him if he lined up and we feel Sors weight on Sunday coupled with Killian’s claim will help his chance. He’s rated 94 so he’ll have a chance again.
It was great to win the Rockingham last year and Sors ended up winning three times at the Curragh in 2016 so he obviously likes the track. Our main aim for him this year was to get him back to last year’s form. It was a good race last year and Kimberella, a very good horse, was second for David Nicholls and Freddie Tylicki. Sors won when 5lbs out of the handicap last year and is now rated 94 so it won’t be easy on Sunday to repeat the feat.
Looking ahead, what will be the plan with Sors after Sunday’s race?
All going well it will probably be the Scurry Handicap on Irish Oaks weekend at the Curragh. He has been running in some of the lower grade handicaps and he’s at a level now where we think he’s earned his chance at taking on better horses for some of the bigger handicaps. The Rockingham and the Scurry are both €100,000 races so we’ll see how he gets on. Looking further ahead, the Ayr Gold Cup is on the agenda. That race is in our minds for him for a while.
We picked up Sors for €23,000 as a yearling from Gerry Hogan and John Halley from Coolmore. He was bought for the same owners as An Saighdiur at the October sale.
Creggs Pipes is another good horse you have in the yard, what’s it like to have her?
Creggs Pipes is great! All going well, she runs on Sunday in the Pretty Polly at the Curragh. She had an entry at Royal Ascot but decided against it as she would have had a Group 2 penalty and with a Group 1 only around the corner we said we’d hold on to her until Sunday.
She has won on good to firm and she’s won on every kind of ground. The one thing I will say about her is that she’s very good on softer ground. She has a good action and she’s very tough. All she does is gallop and I don’t think the mile and a quarter will be any problem to her. I don’t think she would go beyond 10f, at least not for the moment anyway.
She is entered in a lot of good races over the next few months, she has a very optimistic owner who wants her to keep going for good races but we might hold off on some of those and go for the Group 1 race at Capanelle racecourse in Italy. If she got placed in a Group 1 then it would fantastic for her owner. Creggs Pipes is owned by John Hayes from Tipperary town. He’s a brilliant owner to have in the yard. He doesn’t care if she finishes last – he just loves having a runner and it’s all about the taking part with him. He has a brilliant attitude and there’s never any pressure with him, he just loves having a go. That’s why she’s entered in the better races, John is optimistic and loves giving the horse a chance. We have another horse for John coming in to the yard soon and we’ll break her. John breeds all his horses so they’re all related.
We’ll finish up with a few quick questions. What is your favourite track in Ireland?
I would have to say The Curragh.
Pick any horse in training to have in your own yard?
At the moment it would have to be Churchill.
What do Irish racecourses do well?
You have me there! I guess they look after you very well, especially the bigger tracks. It’s going a bit more towards what it’s like in England, when you go over to England the owners are well looked after if you have a runner over there and I think in Ireland the bigger tracks are starting to go towards that now which is great to see.
What is the best thing about international racing when you do go abroad?
I haven’t really been abroad that much but we have had a few runners in England and we have been well looked after any time we go.
You mentioned Churchill, do you think he will finish the year undefeated?
I think so yeah, even if he steps out into open company.
Best bet for Irish champions weekend?
It is a long way off but I would have to say at the moment it is Churchill in the Champion Stakes.
What has been your best day as a trainer?
Creggs Pipes win in the Group 2 at the Curragh on Guineas Weekend was brilliant but I think I’ll go back to An Saighdiur. He has given us some great days and some even better nights!
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