Co Armagh horse running first race in this year’s Cheltenham Festival

Banbridge jockey Mark O'Hare with Michael Lynch former owner of Battle Over Doyen
Banbridge jockey Mark O'Hare with Michael Lynch former owner of Battle Over Doyen

All bets are on Battleoverdoyen, a horse reared in Co Armagh fields, as he runs his first Cheltenham Festival.

Previously owned by Michael Lynch, who bought him for the not inconsiderable sum of £6,000 aged just six months old, the Magheralin man has high hopes for his prodigy.

From a farming background, Michael’s family farm was his inspiration and horse racing coarsed through the family blook.

He spotted a foal at Colm and Caroline Berry’s field near Laurencetown in 2013, the race was on to fill his stables in Magheralin.

Soon after buying a foal from that Laurencetown farm, they spotted another from a stud in Dublin called Battleoverdoyen.

When Battleoverdoyen was a two-year-old they sent him to respected horseman Arthur Hanley to break him in. Then to handler Gerry Cosgrave to get the horse ready for his first point to point race.

Thrills abounded when his black and red colours were chosen and on April 17, 2017, Battleoverdoyen won his first race at Loughanmore with jockey Mark O’Hare.

Michael recalls his phone never stopped on the way home and the next day the cream of racing were looking to buy the winner.

He decided to go to the prestigious Tattersalls sales in Cheltenham the following week and the horse, was set at a reserve for £150,000.

After a buzzing sales ring it sold to the powerhouse Gigginstown stud, owned by the O’Leary’s of Ryanair fame, for a whopping £235,000.

Michael recalls it wasn’t about the money. He has been a punter all his life and dreamed of owning a superstar.

For him it was about seeing a stud which could develop his horse into a future star.

Describing Battleoverdoyen’s style, Michael believes it is all in his stride. He recalled the thoroughbred, who is 17 hands tall, at a point to point. “He was third last and they thought that was it. But that is his style of running. He canters but he has a big stride and can cover half as much ground again as most horses.”

Will he be a future Gold Cup winner?

Battleoverdoyen is running at 1.30pm today (Wednesday) in the Ballymore Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham.