Donn's Articles » Paddy Twomey

Paddy Twomey 

Paddy Twomey ran Foxtrot Liv in the Ballylinch Stud Ingabelle Stakes at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend in 2018.  Foxtrot Liv was a nice filly, she had won her maiden at The Curragh the previous month by six lengths, and her trainer was happy that she was deserving of her place in the opening race on Irish Champions Weekend.

She was too.  She didn’t win it, but she ran a big race, she went down by the bob of a head to Jessica Harrington’s filly Sparkle’n’joy, with subsequent multiple Group 1 winner Iridessa behind her in third.  Paddy Twomey was not despondent.  On the contrary, he loved the experience, he loved everything about the weekend, and he resolved that he would be back.

“It’s a great weekend,” he says thoughtfully.  “Top class racing.  We’re just lucky that we have some horses that are good enough to be involved.”

He calls it luck, but it’s not.  Paddy Twomey’s rise has been stealthy and sure-footed, success layered upon success, which begets success, and momentum builds.  Every step that he has taken since he took out his licence to train in 2012 has been a forward step, and his world is quite different to the world that he inhabited even just four years ago, a young trainer on the up, when Foxtrot Liv went so close to bagging his first listed race win in the Ingabelle Stakes.

Paddy Twomey had seven winners in 2018, which was more than he had had in any season before that.  He had 11 winners in 2019, including his first listed race winner Silk Forest, he had 16 winners in 2020, and he had 19 in 2021.  This season, he has cut loose, 29 winners so far including his first winner in Britain with Treasure Trove at York last month, and we have only just moved into September.

Every year for the last five years, he has bettered his previous season’s tally, but It’s not just about the numbers.  There are better horses now, competing in better races more often.  Among his 29 winners this season are five listed race winners and six Group race winners.  And when La Petite Coco defied a market drift to win the Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh in June, she brought up the first Group 1 win of Paddy Twomey’s training career.

“That was a memorable day,” he says.  “She’s a great filly.  She will always be a special horse for me.”

And he doesn’t waste bullets.  In seven of the last eight seasons, his strike rate has been higher than 20%.  In 2019, it was 29% for the season.  In 2021, it was 30%.  This year, he is operating at a strike rate of 33% in Ireland, and that is remarkable.  It is miles ahead of any other trainer who has had more than 10 runners.  Over 75% of the horses that he has run have finished in the first four.

“I don’t sit down every evening and have a look at our strike rate.  I just try to run the horses in the races in which they belong.  I like to see horses progressing, through the season, from month to month, through their careers, from year to year.  That’s what we try to get them to do.”

You will rarely see a Paddy Twomey horse in a race in which he or she doesn’t belong.  Even the ‘outsiders’.  Like Fantasy Lady, sent off at 25/1 for last year’s Irish 1000 Guineas, beaten a total of a length and three quarters.  French Claim, sent off at 16/1 for this year’s Irish Derby, finished third.  

And you can see the progression of which he speaks.  La Petite Coco was zero for two when she joined Paddy Twomey early last season.  She has won five of her seven races since, including a Group 3, a Group 2 and a Group 1, in that order, step by step.  Limiti Di Greccio has won two of her three races since she joined Twomey, and finished second in the other.  Earl Of Tyrone, rated 77 at the start of this season when he joined Twomey, has won three of his five races this term and finished third in the Ebor at York, and is now rated 29lb higher.  Rosscarbery has won five of her seven races this season and finished second in a Group 1 race in France last month, beaten a neck.  She is also rated 29lb higher than she was when she joined.

He trains by feel, by instinct.  Call it horse sense.  

“We don’t have heart monitors or anything, we don’t weigh our horses every day.  We don’t have weighing scales.  I suppose I grew up with it, I’ve always been around young horses, cattle, I’ve always been around stock.  That’s just the way I’ve always done it.”

And he backs his own judgement.  He has been doing that for years.  He was 11 years old when he bought back a mare that his dad had, Twin Island, who had run down the field on her only run on the racecourse.  She cost no more than a bullock, he tells you.  She was just a mare that he had always liked, he was always convinced that she was a good horse.  He bred the mare to the Rathbarry Stud stallion Taufan, and the resultant foal, Tagula, won the Group 3 July Stakes and the Group 1 Prix Morny as a juvenile.  He remembers that well, he was on his summer holidays from school, a 12-year-old Group 1-winning breeder.

Now a Group 1-winning trainer too, Paddy Twomey had three runners on Longines Irish Champions Weekend last year: Limiti Di Greccio finished second on the Ingabelle Stakes, beaten a half a length; Pearls Galore finished second in the Matron Stakes, beaten a neck; La Petite Coco won the Blandford Stakes.  There’s that strike rate again, maintained even in the biggest races, on the biggest weekend on the Irish flat racing calendar.  

This weekend, it looks like his team for Irish Champions Weekend has strength and depth.  La Petite Coco could run in the Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes, if the rains arrive.  She also has the option of going back to the Blandford Stakes, where she could be joined by Rosscarbery.  

Limiti Di Greccio could make her seasonal debut in the Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes, where she could be joined by Rumbles Of Thunder.  Earl Of Tyrone could run in the Paddy Power Kilternan Stakes, new recruit Just Beautiful in the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile, Erosandpsyche possibly in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Flying Five.  And you know that, wherever they run, they deserve to be there.

© The Sunday Times, 4th September 2022