Breeding thoroughbreds can involve a range of contexts. Take the example of David Brace, who has been honoured as TBA Breeder of the Month for March on account of the career-best performance his chaser Paint The Dream put up in winning the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury.
Not only did he breed the eight-year- old at his Dunraven Stud in Pyle, near Bridgend, from his then-owned stallion Brian Boru, but he is also the grandfather of the gelding’s regular jockey Connor.
David, who gave up coalmining to create a thriving business selling windows, explains: “My son Matthew went down the rugby route, but his son Connor, who started in point-to-points at 16, and his brother Jude, who’s just turned teenager and is riding winners on the pony circuit, followed me into racing.”
Connor’s second racecourse ride on Paint The Dream sealed his owner’s view that he had a special talent on his hands, although the exercise did not go quite as planned.
Brace recalls: “We hold a point-to- point on our land every year and after Paint The Dream’s first two outings, we had him primed for the Open Maiden at the meeting in April 2018. He was steaming along in the lead, well clear, only to fall at the second-last. It was disappointing, but we knew then he was out of the ordinary, so we sent him to Fergal O’Brien that autumn. It suited me because Connor was there and it helped to get him going as a conditional jockey.”
David, who celebrated his 71st birthday ten days after the Newburysuccess, is into his fourth decade as an owner and trainer. A handful of his horses have been farmed out to Philip Hobbs, Christian Williams and now Fergal O’Brien, but the majority have stayed at home and the 2021-22 season has been his best so far as owner and trainer, thanks to Paint The Dream and his half-brother Gats And Co, plus dual winner Shanandoa, Champion Hurdler Honeysuckle’s enigmatic half-brother Colorado Doc and two others.
“We’ve been having a great time,” Brace says, “but we’re not doing anything different. You’ve just got to have the right horses, and they don’t come along every day of the week.”
Sometimes they come along by chance, and Brace would probably not have encountered Paint The Dream had one of his clients harboured different ideas about what he wanted from a mating. He remembers: “I was foaling down a mare for a friend, who when I rang him, said, ‘Don’t tell me it’s a chestnut filly.’ Well, of course, it was a chestnut filly, so I bought the foal and the mare.”
The mare, Vineuil, by Godolphin’s top-class miler Muhtahir, had won over hurdles in her native France and was a half-sister to the very useful hurdler- chaser Drole De Drame. The foal, by Martaline, was named Lady Veronica and never ran, but she visited Nathaniel this season for her first cover and Brace is excited by the prospect.
Vineuil’s second foal was Paint The Dream, who followed up his Newbury success with an excellent fourth at level weights in the Melling Chase at Aintree, and her third and final produce was Gats And Co, by Dr Massini, who graduated from point-to-points and got his act together in February and March to such purpose that he won successive handicap chases at Chepstow by 14 and 12 lengths respectively.
“Sadly, we lost the mare,” Brace says, “but at least we’ve got her daughter Lady Veronica and we’ve been gradually upgrading our mares.”
Brace has also spiced up Dunraven’s stallion offering, bringing in St Leger and Gold Cup winner Leading Light from the Coolmore band. While Leading Light continues his first season in South Wales at a fee of £2,500, his standing has been given a timely boost through Three Stripe Life, who represents his sire’s first crop and opened both their Grade 1 accounts by winning the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.
“We’re not in a strong breeding part of the world and you have to have patience in the jumping game,” Brace reflects, “but you only have to look at old Midnight Legend, who was getting on when he hit the jackpot, so we’re lucky that Leading Light is 12. He’s got plenty of time ahead of him.”