Behind The Scenes: Trip of a lifetime for Roe breeder.
THERE will be a strong contingent of Irish supporters at Flemington in the early hours of tomorrow morning when Dermot Weld launches a two-pronged bid for the Melbourne Cup.
Among them will be the breeder of Vinnie Roe, Virginia Moeran, who has taken a holiday in order to savour the experience of Australia's greatest race.
Vinnie Roe, a dual winner of the Irish St Leger, has been sent to Australia in the hope that he can match Vintage Crop's victory in the race nine years ago.
Win or lose, Vinnie Roe's achievements already represent something of a fairytale, since Moeran received the dam Kayu as a gift from the late Jane Moore of Yeomanstown Lodge, near Naas in County Kildare.
Moore's daughter, Gillian McCalmont, explains the background, saying: "One of our mares, Ladytown, gave birth to twins and naturally she feared the worst, but to her delight they both turned out to be perfectly healthy fillies. However, at the time we had so many fillies from the family that my mother decided not to keep them, and she gave one of them, Kayu, to Virginia."
Ladytown's dam Supreme Lady, the third dam of Vinnie Roe, was a sprinter who won over five furlongs and finished fifth in the Queen Mary Stakes, but her offspring included the 1978 Irish St Leger winner M-Lolshan.
The family has continued to prosper under McCalmont's care, with Fairy Queen successful in the 1999 Ribblesdale Stakes and Prix de Royallieu.
Kayu got off to a bright start as a broodmare when her first foal, Rich Verdict, won first time out in Britain before going to Hong Kong where, renamed Mazal, he won consecutive runnings of the Queen Elizabeth Cup.
Her next foal, Vincitore, won on the Flat and over hurdles, and three more winners followed - Acquaiura, Khartoum and Divine Prospect - who were successful in Italy, the UAE and Britain.
McCalmont says: "It has been a great thrill to see Virginia enjoying so much success with the mare, and it's fantastic that she has produced a champion in Vinnie Roe.
"Like every breeder, she has had her share of disappointments in the past, and that makes it all the more special. It would be tremendous if he could win the Melbourne Cup, but he has already done her proud."
Last year Moeran was honoured by the Farmers' Journal newspaper and Weatherbys for her role as Vinnie Roe's breeder, while her contribution to Ireland's tourist industry has also been recognised with a number of awards.
She operates a bed-and- breakfast in her 200-year-old home, and her visitors attest to a superb standard of hospitality and cuisine.