Retired: March 2017
Trainer: Edward Lynam
Owner: Mrs Sabena Power
Jockeys: Pat Smullen, Wayne Lordan, Keegan Latham, Johnny Murtagh, Ryan Moore, Richard Hughes, Chris Hayes
At the beginning of March 2017, it was announced that Sole Power, one of
the very best and most popular sprinters that Ireland has produced in recent
decades, had been retired by his connections. The 10-year-old won 12 of his 65 starts
including five Group 1 races and accumulated well over €2m in prize money, but
he will perhaps be most fondly remembered for the scintillating turn of foot he
was capable of producing in the closing stages of his races.
Purchased for just £32,000 as a yearling by Eddie
Lynam at Doncaster in 2008, the Power family bought into him and he was put into training at Lynam’s Dunshaughlin base. As a young
horse, he was reportedly a very keen-going type at home that only had two
gears, walking or galloping at top speed, but Lynam soon channelled that energy
in the right direction.
While he showed plenty of ability in his early starts,
he didn’t set the world alight in winning twice at Dundalk from his first 11
starts. However, his career took a sharp upturn on what would prove to be a
famous day at York in August 2010.
Still a three-year-old with an official rating of just
104, Sole Power was asked to take on some of the best older sprinters in the
world in the Nunthorpe Stakes, with his most notable rival being
Starspangledbanner. Sent off at 100/1, very few gave Sole Power a chance, but
with it being the first time that he had encountered a true top-class early
pace in a race that would prove so suitable for him throughout his career, Sole
Power produced a hugely-improved effort to spring a shock of epic proportions
in beating Starspangledbanner by 1¼ lengths under Wayne Lordan.
While it was natural for many observers to consider
such an unexpected victory to be a fluke, history would show that it was
anything but that. After that, Sole Power became a regular on the international
sprinting programme and while he ran well without winning for the next couple
of seasons, he had to wait until King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2013 to
return to the Group 1 winner’s enclosure, lowering the colours of the
highly-regarded Shea Shea under a last-gasp swooping ride from Johnny Murtagh.
2014 was perhaps the finest campaign of Sole Power’s
career. He produced three searing turns of foot in succession to win the Palace
House Stakes at Newmarket, the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and the
Nunthorpe Stakes at York, cementing his position as one of the most exciting
sprinters in the world. Indeed, such was his popularity at that time he was
voted Horse Racing Ireland’s Horse of the Year in 2014, making him the first
and only sprinter to win that award.
There was still plenty of life left in him though, as
2015 saw him remove two notable monkeys from his back. The four previous years
had seen him travel to the Dubai Carnival without success, but he righted that
wrong by beating an international field to win the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan in
Another notable wrong that was righted that year as in
the seasons that followed the second win of his career at Dundalk in April
2010, Sole Power had not won in Ireland and indeed had only run on home soil on
a handful of occasions due to the lack of suitable opportunities for top-class
five-furlong sprinters. Perhaps helped by Sole Power’s exploits on the
international scene, it was decided to upgrade the Flying Five Stakes at the
Curragh to Group 2 status for the inaugural Irish Champions Weekend in 2015 and
as if he could read the script, Sole Power duly turned up and won it!
History will now show that victory at the Curragh
would be the final success of Sole Power’s career. In many ways it was
appropriate that Irish racegoers got to see him in victory before he retired,
as he had done more than his share to enhance the reputation of Irish-trained
sprinters on the international scene.
Sprinters with Sole Power’s level of ability and
wow-factor are very hard to come by and while he enjoys his retirement at Horse
Park Stud in Wicklow, he will be fondly remembered by racing supporters for
many years to come.