A Tribute To The Late R. J. McCreery

Mon 11 December 2017

Sadly one of Richard Hannon’s longest serving owners passed away this year and one of his oldest friends Sandy Kilpatrick very kindly wrote a few words about his life in racing.

One morning many moons ago, I happened to enquire what a certain grey filly was in the string heading towards the gallops. That said RH Snr, belongs to one of your breeder friends…. Mc, Mc, Mc – you mean Bob McCreery? That’s the man! The filly was well sold at Newmarket as a yearling but returned, some say as a box walker and others that the agent’s client couldn’t have a grey at any price!

Named Ronaldsay, she raced in a partnership of Bob, his stud manager David Ludlow and the publisher Simon Tindall and won 4 races and over £115,000 from 2 to 4 years including the Warwickshire Oaks. Her first foal, Gale Force Ten (Oasis Dream) won the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot and is now a stallion at the Irish National Stud.

Next up was a rather backward Fantastic Light filly called Middle Club (after the golf club on Long Island) out of the good German mare Anna Oleanda. Coming to hand much more quickly than expected, she won her maiden at Newbury in July, ran second in the Star Stakes at Sandown before winning the Gr.3 Prix d’Aumale at Chantilly. At 3, she won again and was beaten inches in the Gr.2 Italian Oaks.

Her first foal, Mudaarab, won at Goodwood for Sheikh Hamdan in June this year. Her second, an athletic filly, by the leading American stallion Medaglia d’Oro called Clubora will arrive at Herridge in the spring and will race for Jeanette McCreery and Pall Mall Partners. Middle Club is due to foal to Frankel in January.

Back in 2012 Middle Club’s half-brother by Dubawi was the McCreerys big hope for Tattersalls October Sale but was found to have a major gut problem and he had to undergo a 6 hour operation in Newmarket. He survived, just, and recuperated at the National Stud before heading back to Stowell Hill at Templecombe in Somerset. Bob gave him plenty of time to recover and sent him up to Herridge towards the end of that April. He settled in quickly and was soon showing signs of ability.

Bob asked Tim Horley and Sandy Kilpatrick to see if they could find some friends to form a partnership to lease Piping Rock for the season. A few days later there were 20 Pall Mall Partners signed up with Tim as Hon. Treasurer!

Piping Rock made his debut in a 6 furlong maiden on the Sunday of the King George week-end at Ascot. Under Ryan Moore he made most of the running and won impressively. Ryan felt we should think about a Group race at York. That was not to be and his next race was a 7 furlong Conditions event at Salisbury with Richard Hughes riding. The ground was the worst he had known at the track and Richard sat motionless until the final furlong when the colt quickened clear to beat Hartnell by 4 and a half lengths. The latter went on to win at Royal Ascot and earn over £2 million for Godolphin in Australia.

With the senior jockeys at Doncaster for the Racing Post Trophy, Pat Dobbs rode Piping Rock in the Gr.3 Horris Hill Stakes. He was always travelling well and outclassed the Andre Fabre colt Galiway by nearly 3 lengths. Tremendous excitement all round – an unbeaten Group; winning colt.

On the way back to Somerset, the McCreerys received two substantial offers for the colt. Bob was keen to do a deal with Sheikh Mohammed with favourable terms for using Dubawi in the future!

Disaster struck in December when Piping Rock suffered another serious bout of colic and he had to be put down.
A bitter disappointment for everyone. We will never know how good he might have been.

Pall Mall have owned or leased seven horses since 2013: they have all won, six as two-year-olds. With Bob losing his battle with cancer on Christmas eve, everyone was apprehensive about what might happen, but Jeanette has been truly brilliant and very positive about the future.

Three fillies that had either not made the sales or not made their reserves arrived at Herridge: Anna Nerium, the full-sister to Piping Rock, and the first two foals out of Coplow (Manduro), who was talented but never managed to win a race. The 3-y-o Billesdon Bess (Dick Turpin) had won her maiden at Salisbury in October and the 2-y-o Billesdon Brook was by Champs Elysees who was bred to stay for ever.

As Dick Turpin had been banished to Australia and Champs Elysees had gone to Coolmore as a N.H. stallion, the Partners were not entirely full of confidence!

Had each managed to win a race, we would all have been over the moon! But Billesdon Bess improved 27lbs through the season and finished up winning the Listed Upavon Stakes. Billesdon Brook came to hand much earlier than expected and also won three races including the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood. Anna Nerium also showed tremendous courage to win her Newmarket Maiden and then confounded the experts to land the Group 3 Dick Poole Stakes at 40/1 with a few Pall Mallers collecting at 50s!

To produce a Stakes winner most breeders will spend hours researching blood lines, inbreeding, outcrosses, what stallions would suit on the physical front and much more. Most will dither and decide to have another drink and hope for inspiration. It can also happen by chance.

Bob was at Herridge one morning when he took a call from David Elsworth who told him Coplow had been cast in her box and wouldn’t be able to run for a time. Bob turned to Richard Snr and asked him if he had any nominations left?
Only a Dick Turpin he said. Perfect says Bob, we can do a foal share and Coplow can walk over to the National Stud and be covered: result Billesdon Bess!

With the various bonuses, the three fillies won 8 races and earned a few pounds short of £200,000. They are all having a well deserved winter break at Jeanette’s Stowell Hill in Somerset and they will be returning to Herridge in January.

The exploits of the Billesdons helped the third foal out of Coplow to make 380,000gns at the October Sales – bought by John Gosden for Godolphin. Her fourth foal is a filly by Sepoy and Coplow is due to visit Dubawi in the spring,

Billesdon Bess was the third member of her female family to win the Upavon Stakes in the last decade and she may well try to be the first dual winner of the race in 2018. The other two from the Anna family both went to the States and won Stakes races including Ave (Gr.1).

It is just so sad that Bob didn’t live to see the fruits of his labours this year. Great credit also goes to the two Richards, Tony Gorman and all the staff at Herridge. We provided Ryan Moore with his 2,000th winner in Britain (Billesdon Brook), Hollie Doyle with her first Stakes winner (Billesdon Bess) and Tom Marquand with his first Group winner (Anna Nerium).


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