Horse Racing

The Norelands return to their historical family with Gaelic fairy tales

When the McCalmont family’s Norelands Stud bought a 5-year-old mare Gaelic’s story (Giant’s Causeway) for $120,000 through BBA Ireland last week in Keeneland in January, it has reverted to a Group 1 family it has had a hand in developing.

Harry McCalmont now runs Norelands, which is adjacent to Ballylinch Stud and was founded in 1912, largely as a base for mares visiting Ballylinch’s famous Tetrarch stallion. Harry McCalmont’s father, Major Victor McCalmont, purchased Gaelic Tales’ seventh dam, Agars Plow (Ire) (Combat {GB}), as a foal in 1952.

McCalmont said: “Agars Plow won the Irish Oaks about a week after I was born, long ago in 1955. “One of her daughters was Mesopotamia (Ire) (Zarathustra {GB}) ), who won the 2nd division championship in England and Ireland and beat Chesham by about 12 lengths. She is the sixth dam of Gaelic Tales. ”

Mesopotamia would go on to be an influential producer, and among her descendants raised in the Norelands was the Dane (Ire), a great-granddaughter of Mesopotamia. Denmark was retained by the McCalmont family and broke her maidenhood and was shortlisted at Leopardstown at level two for coach Michael Kauntze shortly after Victor McCalmont’s death in 1993. The Danes joined with John Hammond in France in a 4-year-old campaign in which she won the listing and finished third in the G3 Prix de la Nonette before shipping to the US for the Queen Elizabeth II G1 Cup at Keeneland. Denmark was purchased by Sheikh Mohammed for $1.55 million at Keeneland in November 1996 on a mare to Gone West.

The best Danish-made horse for Sheikh Mohammed was the third Blixen of the Listed Flame Of Tara S. (Gone West), the horse that later became the dam of the G1 World Cup champions Dubai Africa Story ( GB) (Pivotal {GB}) by Godolphin. Blixen also captured the Storybook (UAE) winning horse, which happens to be the son of Halling, the great-grandson of Mesopotamia. By the time Storybook retreated to the parking lot, she had been sold to War frontJoe Allen’s owner. Storybook is the dam of three stake horses as well as Gaelic Tales, who was sold to Phoenix Thoroughbreds for $100,000 in Keeneland in September 2018. Gaelic Tales has failed to find a winner’s siege for 10 times. started, but has been booked six times. She retired early March 2021 and was covered by Coolmore’s first season Classic winning male Tiz Law (Organization).

Meanwhile, the McCalmont family is hunting to restore Mesopotamia’s line to their fields. They even succeeded once, finding a mare in Arqana a few years ago, but she died in a boating accident shortly after returning home.

“My father had a lot of families,” says McCalmont. “After he died, we had a few left in the family and for one reason or another we lost them – they died or were sold. I’ve been trying to get back to that family for several years and really can’t. ”

Hope was rekindled when McCalmont’s son Hamish was flipping through Keeneland’s January catalog and landed on Gaelic Tales.

“Neither of us were in Keeneland, so I asked Michael Donohoe of BBA Ireland to come see her,” McCalmont said. “He really liked her, said she was a beautiful mare, so we bought her. So let’s hope it all goes well.”

McCalmont said Gaelic Tales will likely be a foal in Kentucky and bred there before moving back to Ireland.

“She is in Tiz Law, who might actually be a backward American male,” he said. “So we would probably take her down to Kentucky and then cover her with something that would be more in line with European plans, because it’s a very European family. Then we will probably bring her back to Ireland later this year when she comes back with the pony.”

As she embarks on her broodmare career, Gaelic Tales certainly has stellar precedent in her pedigree. The legacy of the Mesopotamia hybrid Norelands is still growing to this day, and there are Group 1 winners and champions in Great Britain, Ireland, France, New Zealand and the United States, including 1973 Irish champion Welsh Garden ( Ire); 1990 G1 Middle Park winner S. Balla Cove (Ire); 1995 G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest and G1 Sprint Cup winner Cherokee Rose (Ire); the aforementioned Juddmonte International and Coral-Eclipse winner Halling and World Cup winner Dubai Africa Story; G1 Irish 1000 Guineas Just The Judge Winner; Guineas winner 2020 G1 2000 Kameko, and many more.

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