"I can't wait to see Jason in the Morgiana, it's a dream come true" - owner Peter Michael
Peter Michael has always had racing in the blood.
His uncle John had a farm with a field of racehorses and his dad owned a few horses for as long as he can remember. His love affair with the thoroughbred started at a young age and he was hooked. He loved going to the races.
Now a horse racing owner who is fond of a punt, Peter has also bred his first horse Chef Afef and he fancies his chances against most tipsters.
He has horses in training with Gavin Cromwell, Conor O'Dywer, and Henry De Bromhead, with stable star Jason The Militant on his books. It's a hell of a story.
"I have always loved horses and horse racing for as long as I can remember," he says.
"My uncle John had a farm with many racehorses there, and my dad owned a few horses as well when I was growing up. For me, there was nothing better than going racing at the weekends as a kid, especially if my dad or uncle had a horse running."
Peter got involved with a syndicate with Kinger Rocks, a very classy mare who they had very high hopes for but tragically passed away at a young age.
Once a 3/1 Ante-Post favorite for The Galway Hurdle months before it, she was found to be sick post-race and didn't show her true colours on the day. It was sadly the last crop of his uncle's horses. He now owns her full sister Rock Angel who is the dam of stable Jason the Militant.
"She was a fancy for the champion bumper after her debut but we decided to go another route.
"She had many form lines that gave her every chance of being Champion Hurdle class, but we never got the chance to see it. She was 3/1 Ante-Post fav for the Galway Hurdle months before the race but was sick and underperformed. I have her full sister Rock Angel, who is my only current broodmare.
"Rock Angel was the last outlet of my uncle's horses as he passed away ten years or so ago, and I knew she had a lot more ability than she was able to show on the track, so I took the chance to keep her as a broodmare some nine years ago and she has repaid my faith in her."
Chef Afef was sent away to Henry's yard for a number of years from Derrymore only to arrive back years later.
When he arrived back he was put into the field and on arriving back to the stables he walked by eight horses in the stable and didn't stop at any. When he walked by his mother he stopped right in his tracks. Their bond was still there (pictured below).
Jason The Militant is undoubtedly Peter's stable star.
A Grade 2 winning hurdler and a recent winner on the flat, this son of Rock Angel will run in the Morgiana this Sunday and his owner is confident of a big run. The dream of having a runner at Cheltenham in the Champion Hurdle is very much on the cards provided he runs a big race against the likes of Saint Roi and Abacadabras. He sees himself as an underdog against the big owners but would love to get the backing of a big investor in the future.
"He is fine, Henry is very happy with him and he said he took the race well and will come on for it. It's all systems go for The Morgiana and hopefully, we will get a lot of rain which will suit him.
"I think he is better than what he showed at Down Royal and he will need to be if he is to have a chance in the Champion Hurdle. He has only had five runs over hurdles so hopefully, there is more to come.
"I can't wait to see Jason in the Morgiana, it's a dream come true to have a horse from my only broodmare that can run in these big races with a realistic chance of winning and competing against the big owners. I would not have anywhere near the resources they have. It would be great to get the backing of a big investor and have a real chance at the big time."
Peter has four horses in training, stable star Jason The Militant, Duchess Ravenwaves, Innamorare, and Pulsating all of whom have won their fair share of races for the Dublin based owner. When the horses are in the offseason, they spend their time out of training with good friend Tom Burns in Derrymore Farm where Rock Angel is based.
Rock Angel, Jason The Militant, Duchess Ravenwaves & Chef Afef(in no order) enjoying some time off...Great to have Jason & Chef Afef back with their mom Rock Angel for Easter! All boarding with @tomjburnshotma1 pic.twitter.com/aha0FHBGCm
— Peter Michael Racing (@Pmichaelracing) April 12, 2020
Peter's horses are based with three handlers. Top trainer Henry De Bromhead, Champion Hurdle winning trainer Gavin Cromwell and ex-jockey Conor O'Dywer. He was drawn to Henry from the way he campaigns his horses and the ways he teaches his horses to jump, a trait he is well known for with his chasers. He has plans to also team up with Matthew Smith in the future, a man who he thinks is ready for a breakthrough.
"I have always loved how Henry campaigns his horses and how he teaches them to jump. He leaves no stone unturned and he is an absolute master of his trade.
"I went to Gavin when he had around ten horses in training as his record for the horses he had was outstanding similar to what I said above about Matthew Smith, and Gavin gradually took off and has not looked back since."
Not shy of a bet, Peter by day is a pro punter who fancies his chances against some of the prominent tipsters in the game. He works hard at his craft, studying the form in detail, and says you have to put the work in to make it pay dividends.
"I like a bet but I wouldn't be one of those pundits on TV who study the whole card and say, 'this was the closest I came to a bet today'," he says.
"Like anything else, you have to put in the work if you want to be good at it. If you don't put in the work you have no chance.
"To be honest, most of the tipsters out there are poor and I would fancy beating 90% of them year in year out. There are some excellent ones but a lot of them are well below average."
In a recent interview, Jim Bolger raised some questions around the testing of racehorses that the IHRB carries out and compared the process with France's. For Peter Michael, hair testing is the way forward.
"When a man like Jim Bolger comes out and says what he did it has to set alarm bells ringing," he explains.
"There is no room for trainers trying to gain an advantage by giving horses banned substances. I am sure this will be looked into further and rightly so. Hair testing is the way forward. If nobody has anything to hide then why not do it?
"Let's be transparent."
When buying a horse, look for horses that have been campaigned wrong.
Peter Michael uses his own judgment and race reading skills. He has a very nice half brother to Jason The Milliant, Sir Prince Edmond to look out for next season. A horse by Kalanisi the Breeders Cup Turf winner, he is a horse to put into your tracker and his mare Rock Angel is in foal to dual Derby-winning racehorse Australia.
"I look for horses I feel have been campaigned wrong and or horses that I feel have more to offer. I use my own judgment and race reading skills to try and source out horses that way and a lot of work is needed.
"I have a half brother to Jason The Militant called Sir Prince Edmond, he is with Tom Burns in Derrrymore farm. Sir Prince Edmond is by Kalanisi and is a lovely looking horse, he just needs a bit more time, and please god will be running next year. I have Rock Angel in foal to Australia so watch out for that in four years' time!"
Trust is a massive trait.
He advises people when entering into ownership or a syndicate. And a trainer you rate. Syndicates are massively popular in Irish horse racing at the moment and Peter is looking to start a syndicate of his own looking for keen racing fans to join.
"Find a trainer you rate and trust. You need a lot of skill and work to pick out the right horses to invest in, so if you feel you can't do that then get the trainer to do that for you. If you are looking to get into a syndicate then contact me on Twitter as I am looking to get a few going."
For Peter, the current lockdown situation has made him miss the buzz and thrill of being an owner and seeing his own horses run in the flesh at the racecourse. The joy of shouting on a winner, the atmosphere trackside, the anticipation as your horse canters to the start, he misses it all.
"Everything from the drive down to the track with the anticipation of what lies ahead and visualising your race to being close to the horses in the parade ring and seeing the steam come off their back after the race... the atmosphere.
"The buzz of seeing your horse run live and if you are lucky enough shouting home a winner. I miss it all."
Passing some time by watching Innamorare's win @LeopardstownRC ridden by @AndrewSlattery7...Gotta cheer them home! @darachfinnegan @DeclanHarmon
I've said it before and I'll say it again, the winning feeling of a horse your involved in is PRICELESS! pic.twitter.com/7dI9VG2fbC
— Peter Michael Racing (@Pmichaelracing) March 29, 2020
If you could own one horse from another yard who would it be?
All owners dream of having a superstar horse in their yard like Envoi Allen or Honeysuckle. If Peter was to own one horse from another yard it wouldn't be the first on your list. He prefers a handicapper by the name of Aarons Day for trainer Oliver McKiernan.
"It's easy to state the obvious ones like Envoi Allen or Honeysuckle but that would be boring. I would go for one much less known and only a handicapper so far. ARRONS DAY is a horse I like a lot and I think he will have a fantastic NH season and is a horse that is going to leave his handicap mark far behind."
Peter Michael is a name to watch in the coming years in horse racing. A very passionate owner with a keen eye for a horse at the sales. His stock in Irish racing is likely to rise in the coming years. With the likes of Jason The Militant in his stable under the guidance of Henry De Bromhead, he can still chase that illustrious dream of a Champion Hurdle winner at the hallowed turf come March.
Or maybe his half brother Sir Prince Edmond or Chef Afef can go one better and do the business in a few year's time? If you see Peter at a racecourse he might just give you the tip.
You can follow Peter Michael's progress on his Twitter page here.