Invitation Only took the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park on Thursday, a year and three days after 15-year-old Patrick McCormack tragically lost his life in a farming accident. This was a poignant success as Patrick had signed for the son of Flemensfirth when he was sold as a three-year-old at the Tattersalls Derby Sale back in 2014.
From Ballina in Tipperary, Patrick was in the company of his uncle Pat Coffey at the sales when the pair picked out the now seven-time winner and went to €40,000 for the gelding who was consigned by Rathyork Stud.
The story took another twist at this point as the bay was ultimately brought home by Sean Doyle on the day. The Monbeg handler produced Invitation Only to to win a four-year-old maiden at Ballynoe the following spring and the winner was subsequently sold to Andrea & Graham Wylie.
Out of a six-time winning mare, the gelding won two bumpers and a maiden hurdle before embarking on his chasing career. David Mullins was aboard when he took a Grade 3 novice chase around Punchestown last January, before the now eight-year-old ran a couple of huge races in Grade 1 company later in the season. Winning the Thyestes of a mark of 152, Willie Mullin’s charge may well reappear at Cheltenham in March.
Patrick was hugely involved in his uncle Pat’s training operation and the pair were a very common sight together both at point-to-points and at the sales. Patrick was in his Junior Cert year at St Anne’s Community College and spent every given opportunity riding out and schooling at Pat’s Boulagloss yard.
Following great success in the Hunter Trials sphere, Patrick had held high aspirations of taking out his amateur licence upon turning 16.
Not only was Patrick very keen in the saddle, he also commonly signed for a good portion of the horses Pat bought at the sales. Prior to his death Patrick had purchased a couple of horses of his own, which included Lough Derg Rose, who won both her starts between-the-flags before being sold to Alan King.
Patrick was also very proud to have picked up a Flemensfirth mare at the Land Rover Sale in 2017, who was out a half-sister to Hurricane Fly. Now named Hurricane Junior, the mare is also a full-sister to Grade 1 bumper winner Tornado Flyer and Patrick bought her for just €3,000.
Tragically Patrick passed away just over 12 months ago, and with his anniversary mass having only been held on Saturday the 19th January in Ballina, the victory of Invitation Only was certainly an emotional one.
Patrick is not the only link in Ballina to the winner of the 2019 renewal of the Thyestes Chase, as the Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old was bred by Seamus McKeogh of the Lake Side Hotel in the town.
McKeogh sold the gelding as a foal for €17,500 and is responsible for breeding some smart performers including 2017 Aintree Grand National runner Gold Present and seven-time winner Presenting Julio.
Indeed Invitation Only was consigned for the November National Hunt sale in 2011 by Paddy and Louis Kennedy of Mountain View Stud in Ballina.