Clonmel hotelier John Nallen bought, named and sold Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Minella Indo
Minella Indo, the winner of the blue riband race at last week’s Cheltenham Festival, acquired his name when the horse’s previous owner John Nallen was filling in the naming forms for horses at the reception desk of his Clonmel hotel.
The Gold Cup-winning horse bears the name of Hotel Minella, which is owned by John and his sister Elizabeth.
“I had three forms to fill in one night and there were three newspapers on the counter - The Irish Times, Irish Examiner and Irish Independent (sometimes referred to as the Indo).
“That’s how Minella Indo got his name,” says John.
There’s another strong local connection with the Gold Cup winner; the horse was bred by Richard and Anne Lalor at Rathkenny Stud in Lisronagh, between Clonmel and Fethard.
A son of Beat Hollow, Minella Indo was bought by John Nallen as a foal at Tattersalls Ireland for €24,000 and won on his debut run in a point-to-point at Dromahane, near Mallow, before being sold privately into de Bromhead’s stable as a five-year-old three years ago.
John Nallen said that Minella Indo had “a really good presence about him” and was “just the real deal” when he decided to buy the horse.
“These horses either jump out at you or they don’t.
“He was a strong, quality foal with a good pedigree and he made a good impression.”
Above: Celebration time for trainer Henry de Bromhead, right, jockey Jack Kennedy, left, and a staff member of de Bromhead’s stable, after Minella Indo won The WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup at Prestbury Park. Photo by Hugh Routledge/Sportsfile
The Nallen name has been synonymous with racehorse ownership and sales down through the years; these days the horses are usually sold after catching the eye in point-to-point races.
As well as Minella Indo, some of their best-known horses have included Minella Rocco, a Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up behind Sizing John in 2017 when racing in the famous green and gold colours of JP McManus; Minella Gold, Minella Lad, Minella Express and Notebook.
“You buy a small bundle of them, sell them on and hope they will do something big” says John, who operates from his base at Lavally, near Clerihan, Clonmel.
There he is assisted by head man James Corky Carroll, John’s son Jack and his nephews Seanie and Conor Bowen.
He recalls the time when his late father, Jack, bought the Clonmel hotel in 1961 when he sold Colonel Perry, a greyhound that went on to win the English Derby, for 5,000 pounds.
“I wouldn’t be able to buy another Hotel Minella with what I sold Minella Indo for,” he quickly adds!
He praised Dingle jockey Jack Kennedy for the great ride he had given the horse in the Gold Cup.
He was also delighted with Rachael Blackmore’s success at Cheltenham.
The Killenaule woman, who finished the week as the leading jockey at the festival, rode the Gold Cup runner-up A Plus Tard.
Both the winner and runner-up in the race were trained by Henry de Bromhead at Knockeen, near Tramore in Co Waterford.
Rachael Blackmore had ridden Minella Indo to win the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham two years ago, when she became the first female jockey to ride a Grade One winner over hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival.
John Nallen said that Rachael’s “unbelievable story” last week had lifted the gloom and doom of a country that is still in lockdown.
“Last week for jump racing in Ireland was the same as Italia 90 had been for soccer fans.”
He said that people who he didn’t think had any interest in horse racing had followed the festival closely.
He was also pleased that the owners of the 23 Irish-trained winners of the 28 races at Cheltenham were scattered throughout the country, and not just confined to a few names.
For more horse racing see Hero's welcome for Rachael Blackmore on triumphant return to Tipperary
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