Romanised aims to conquer at the Curragh for Ballyhea trainer Ken Condon

Romanised aims to conquer at the Curragh for Ballyhea trainer Ken Condon
Trainer Ken Condon and wife Pauline pose with the trophy after Romanised won the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas in 2018. Picture: PA Wire

TRAINER Ken Condon’s Romanised will make his seasonal debut on another weekend of Classic action at the Curragh today.

Condon’s stable star won the 2000 Guineas in 2018 and enjoyed a stellar season last year culminating in a Group 1 victory in France.

The delayed start to the flat season derailed early-season targets, but the Ballyhea native, who trains on the Curragh, is very pleased with the son of Holy Roman Emperor.

“Romanised is in great order and makes his seasonal debut this weekend,” Condon said.

“He’s been off the track since September after finishing off a great campaign. Obviously, with Covid, plans for the season were disrupted. Initially, we had planned to start in Ireland before going over to the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot.

“But the horse is in super order and always runs well in the Curragh. He looks an absolute picture and Billy Lee, who rides him in all his work, is delighted with him.

“Romanised will certainly come on for the run and he has a race in Deauville in August as a major target this summer.

“A straight track suits the horse best, so we tend to use tracks like the Curragh, Deauville and Ascot. But it’s all systems go at this stage with the horse.”

While Romanised will fly the flag for the older horses, every trainer looks to unearth a two-year-old superstar every season.

Condon may have found one in the form of Teresa Mendoza who caught the eye of many shrewd judges at the Curragh last weekend.

“We were thrilled with her performance and she looks very good alright. The competition in these maidens is very stiff but Teresa Mendoza looks to have a lovely temperament which the very good ones generally have.

“We’ll step her up in class the next day, but she is a very exciting filly for the future. We also have a couple of nice colts for the latter end of the year.

“We have a lovely colt called Guest who is out of Acclamation and another one named Miami Voice which goes nicely at the moment.

“They are both two-year-olds who the readers can keep an eye out for.”

Romanised and Billy Lee win for trainer Ken Condon. Picture: Healy Racing.
Romanised and Billy Lee win for trainer Ken Condon. Picture: Healy Racing.

Condon has been a very visible figure in Irish racing for many years, now mixing it at an elite level.

The north Cork area is steeped in racing folklore and Condon traces his current success back to his roots.

”I grew up in Ballyhea with strong links to the local parish, Inniscarra, and west Cork. I went to school in Ballyhea and Charleville and I progressed to hunting in my teenage years.

“There is such a massive tradition of racing around the whole area and the horses eventually took over.

“The Niarchos family are known worldwide in racing circles and working for them on their farm in Normandy was a brilliant experience.

“I returned to Ireland full-time and worked for John Oxx for the next six years. That was my university really and it was an incredible time to be associated with the yard.

“Timarida, Sindar, and horses like that were in the yard. My responsibilities included all the two-year-olds which were of the highest quality.

“Sinndar won the Arc during my time with the Oxx team on a really memorable weekend in Paris.

“In 2002 I made the plunge to go out on my own which was a big move. We started out with three horses and it was tough.

“But you must have faith in your own ability and the winners will starting coming. We really made the breakthrough in 2007 as we trained plenty of winners including four stakes winners to put us on the map and every year we’ve tried to get a better quality horse.”

The truncated nature of this flat season has made life challenging for many trainers as Condon explains.

“Luckily the caring of animals is an essential business and we were able to hold all our staff. But it was challenging as staff are nervous and owners aren’t able to come to see their horses.

“Not having a resumption date made it challenging as horses are like athletes in a way, you have to bring their fitness on slowly but surely.

“So, we might have had to ease back on fast work for horses like Romanised. Our owners have been incredibly loyal, as have our staff.

“The whole industry has rallied around to get racing back on our tracks. The race day experience is very different now and the horses probably like the quieter atmosphere everyone is obeying the rules and thankfully we haven’t had any new cases within racing.”

Condon was back in Mallow Racecourse last weekend where another stable favourite Ice Cold In Alex finished runner-up in a Premier Handicap.

This consistent stalwart runs in the ultra-competitive sprint handicap this afternoon.

“Well, it's always great to get back to north Cork although it was a bit strange going racing with no crowds.

“It’s a great track which is always well supported, and our horses run well there. Ice Cold In Alex has been an unbelievably consistent horse who is rarely out of the first three.

“Fast ground is essential, but I’d expect him to land one of those big handicaps over the coming months.”

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