Did you know: Vinnie Roe sealed his place in racing history by winning the Irish St Leger on four consecutive occasions between 2001 and 2004. It was a remarkable sequence of performances from both horse and trainer, but Vinne Roe wasn't all about the Irish St Leger. He finished a close second in the Ascot Gold Cup in 2002 and a close third in the same race in 2005. Even more notable were his gallant efforts in the Melbourne Cup, with him finishing fourth in the 2002 renewal, second in the 2004 renewal and eighth on what would prove to be his final career start in 2005. He is now standing as a National Hunt stallion and his progeny are making a notable impact on the racecourse.
The Dermot Weld trained Vinnie Roe was one of the most consistent flat performers of the last decade and this son of Definite Article retired to stud in 2005 the winner of 13 of his 29 career starts amassing well over €1 million in prize money. When one looks back on his race record, he won 13, finished second 4 times, finished third 5 times and fourth on 4 occasions which meant he only failed to reach the frame three times. However, as he finished seventh in the Budweiser Irish Derby in 2001, fifth in the Prix de l'Arc de Troimphe in 2003 and eighth in the 2005 Melbourne Cup, he actually earned prize money on all 29 occasions that he raced, which was truly an amazing record.
Racing in the colours of Seamus Sheridan, Vinnie Roe made his debut on June 28th 2000 at Leopardstown and despite drifting in the betting market from an opening show of 6/4 out to 4/1, he managed to secure a narrow victory over Affianced in a two year old auction maiden over seven furlongs. He did not re-appear again until taking his chance in the Group 3 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes over a mile at the Curragh in mid-October where he finished third to easy winner, Turnberry Isle (4/11 favourite), trained by Aidan O'Brien. Vinnie Roe was then aimed at the Eyrefield Stakes at Leopardstown over nine furlongs and starting a well backed 5/1 second favourite for this listed contest he led over a furlong out and ran on well to defeat the Kevin Prendergast trained Rebelline by a length and a half.
At the beginning of 2001, racing in Ireland was put on hold for seven long weeks when the Foot and Mouth epidemic broke out in Great Britain in late February and the start of the Flat Racing Season was delayed until mid-April. Vinnie Roe made his seasonal re-appearance in the Ballysax Stakes and ran a good race to finish third to Galileo and Milan. As he was a previous listed race winner, he had to concede 3lbs to these top class rivals who between them went on to win the English and Irish Derbys, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes and the English St Leger later that season so again it was another really good performance by Vinnie Roe although at the time he would have received little credit for it. Sent back to Leopardstown three weeks later he could only finish fourth of the five runners to Galileo in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes over ten furlongs beaten a total of four lengths, a performance which encouraged Dermot Weld to have a crack at the valuable Italian Derby in Capannelle two weeks later. Ridden by Tony Quinn on this occasion he finished a very respectable fourth behind the winner Morshdi and although beaten six and a half lengths by the winner, connections were satisfied by this effort and at the end of June, he faced the mighty Galileo again in the Budweiser Irish Derby at the Curragh.
Galileo had looked unbeatable when winning the Epsom Derby three weeks earlier and with Michael Kinane on board, this superb individual had little difficulty in justifying odds on favouritism at the Curragh with Vinnie Roe finishing a creditable seventh. Given a break after this effort, connections decided to step him up in distance to one mile and six furlongs for the Challenge Stakes at Leopardstown in late July and Vinnie Roe showed that he could be a stayer of some substance with a thoroughly convincing performance as he strode to a comfortable four length victory over the useful Sadlers Wings. With a tilt at the Irish St Leger at the Curragh in September now his ultimate objective, Weld decided to go for the Ballycullen Stakes over a mile and six furlongs over the same course in late August and in a really exciting finish, Vinnie Roe emerged best by a head from Pugin who had previously finished a fine fourth in the Budweiser Irish Derby.
Three year olds do not have a great recent record in the Jefferson Smurfit Memorial Irish St Leger at the Curragh with Petite Ile in 1989 the last one of her age to score and, with the likes of Millenary, Marienbard and Persian Punch in opposition, Vinnie Roe was facing a very tough task. Having won the English St Leger at Doncaster in the year 2000, John Dunlop's Millenary started the 9/4 favourite just ahead of the fancied Marienbard at 5/2 with Vinnie Roe a solid 5/1 chance. Held up in the early stages by Pat Smullen, Weld's charge was fifth at the half mile pole before going third racing into the straight. Making his challenge from the two furlong marker, Vinnie Roe led a furlong later and stayed on strongly to record a famous win to give his young rider his first ever victory in a Classic race. Now firmly established as a superior stayer, Vinnie Roe then completed a notable Classic double by taking the French St Leger at Longchamp in late October over one mile and seven furlongs and it was at this stage that trainer Dermot Weld starting thinking of a tilt at the Melbourne Cup in Australia for his charge, a race he had won before with Vintage Crop in 1993.
Given plenty of time to recover from his exertions in the autumn of 2001, Vinnie Roe did not re-appear until the end of May 2002 when he took his chance in the Savel Beg Stakes at Leopardstown. Despite not being fully fit and the fact that he had to shoulder 10st 1lb, he ran out a most decisive four length winner on soft ground and it was no surprise when connections decided to aim him at the Ascot Gold Cup the following month. Starting a well supported 5/2 favourite at Ascot, Vinnie Roe looked a certain winner when touching the front inside the final furlong but in a memorable finish it was the Johnny Murtagh ridden Royal Rebel who fought back bravely to regain the lead close home and win by a neck. Vinnie Roe had given his all that day and Dermot Weld wisely gave him a bit of a break before going for the Ballyroan Stakes over twelve furlongs at Leopardstown in August where once again he showed his class with a comfortable victory over Millstreet despite racing over a trip short of his best.
With the Melbourne Cup in Australia now very much on his agenda, Weld bypassed a couple of other races before saddling Vinnie Roe for the Irish St Leger and under a confident ride from Pat Smullen a second victory in this race was secured as he easily defeated Pugin by a length and a half justifying some hefty wagers in the process (backed from 4/5 to 4/7 favourite). After this victory all roads led to Australia as Vinnie Roe took his chance in the world famous Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday in November and despite having to shoulder top weight he started the 9/2 favourite. Having held a prominent position throughout he looked the likely winner early in the straight but was unable to cope with his stable companion, Media Puzzle, from the two furlong marker and eventually had to make do with fourth place on ground that was considered too firm for him.
Vinnie Roe did not re-appear until August of 2003 where once again he landed the Ballyroan Stakes over twelve furlongs. Aimed at a third Irish St Leger, this now five year old son of Definite Article was bidding to make history by becoming the first horse ever to win three Irish St Legers and under another excellent ride from Pat Smullen he proved a length too strong for Gamut much to the delight of the home crowd. Weld decided to give the Melbourne Cup a miss this time round and instead Vinnie Roe was allowed to take his chance in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in early October. Racing against some of the best horses in the world, he once again ran a cracker to finish a very creditable fifth behind the brilliant Dalakhani but unfortunately was unable to repeat this effort when brought back to Longchamp for the French St Leger and had to settle for fourth place behind Westerner.
Now a six year old, Vinnie Roe's whole season was centred around a record fourth attempt at the Irish St Leger and despite tasting defeat in the Savel Beg Stakes and the Ballyroan Stakes, both races at Leopardstown, he ran out a convincing winner of the Irish Field sponsored Classic as he defeated Brian Boru by a comfortable two and a half lengths. Aimed at the Melbourne Cup in early November, he again ran his heart out but had to settle for the runner up spot behind Makybe Diva, beaten just a length by this top class Australian mare.
Despite now being a seven year old, Jim Sheridan's remarkable campaigner showed he was as good as ever when winning the Savel Beg Stakes at Leopardstown in late May before finishing third to Westerner in the Gold Cup run at Royal York having once again shown that two and a half miles is beyond him. A good third to Chelsea Rose and Shalapour in the Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown in mid-August shows that he retained plenty of ability but a fifth consecutive victory in the Irish Field St Leger the following month was foiled as he could only manage to finish a highly creditable third to Collier Hill. His final career outing saw him attempt an elusive victory in the 2005 Melbourne Cup and while he again performed creditably, Vinnie Roe could do no better than finish a close up eighth in a field of 24. A wonderfully game and genuine colt, Vinnie Roe was a high class stayer who was superbly trained by Dermot Weld and the memories he gave us over the years won't be easily forgotten.