First Cornerstone's success good news for both Oliver and Team Valor


RACING:TEAM VALOR’S ethos is to get “the most bang for our buck” and the world-renowned American racing partnership fired a shot across next year’s classic bows when their new purchase First Cornerstone landed yesterday’s Group Two Curragh feature.

Valor’s green colours have been carried to top-flight success around the globe, including in last year’s Kentucky Derby on board Animal Kingdom.

Their spokesman Barry Irwin has a history of buying relatively unrecognised talent, and ignoring pedigree, and only last week sealed a deal to buy First Cornerstone in trainer Andy Oliver’s Co Tyrone yard.

Oliver’s one condition was that a €9,500 supplementary fee into the Galileo Futurity be followed up and Irwin’s agreement meant First Cornerstone completed a huge weekend for the trainer who on Saturday landed the Cambridgeshire with Punch Your Weight.

“Everything he told me came to pass. I’ve got half of this horse myself so we might leave him here for a while,” said Irwin who often brings his overseas purchases back to the US where Valor has a string of up to 40 horses.

They also have interests in South Africa, Britain, France and Germany. That will be good news for Oliver, the qualified vet and ex-assistant to Mark Johnston, who was gaining his biggest success yet with the son of the hitherto disappointing stallion, Hurricane Run.

“He looks to be improving. He’s in the Beresford and the Racing Post but it’s all to do with the new owners now. They call the shots,” Oliver said. “ They are based in the US and everything usually ends up there eventually.”

Paddy Power installed First Cornerstone at 20 to 1 in ante-post betting for next year’s Newmarket 2,000 Guineas.

Ballinasloe-based trainer Muredach Kelly hit the high point of his career to date when My Girl Anna upset Coolmore’s favourite Fire Lily in the Group Three Flying Five.

Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien secured the Group Three Lanwades Stakes with Up who could next join her stable companion Maybe in Leopardstown’s Matron Stakes.

Karamaya’s narrow debut success was a surprise to John Oxx who will step up the Aga Khan’s filly in grade next, possibly for the Group Three Park Stakes.

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