Trainer Keri Brion, who took over Jonathan Sheppard’s string in Ireland after the legendary conditioner retired earlier this winter, won her first race of the long campaign when newcomer Scorpion’s Revenge captured a bumper flat race today at Cork Racecourse.
Owned by Irv and Diane Naylor, Scorpion’s Revenge was purchased from James Doyle’s Baltimore Stable. Brion eyeballed and got aboard the unraced five-year-old in November and convinced the Naylors to take a chance on him based on his pedigree and speed. After a few weeks off, the son of Scorpion out of Holmshill Gill, by Exit to Nowhere, resumed training and won at first asking, defeating 16 competitors under jockey Dan Nevin, who earned his first career victory.
“Wins are always exciting,” said Diane Naylor, who is anxiously looking forward to French Light’s start at Fairyhouse tomorrow, also for Brion. “We had no idea, and were worried about 17 horses in the race, and frankly had no expectations other than to hope for the best.
“We are so excited for Keri and her win — overdue and well deserved. She picked this horse out and obviously has a good eye. Her selection of a jockey was spot on.The horse is young and we are looking forward to racing him here in America.”
Brion’s one-word reaction to the win: “Unbelievable.”
“Dan Nevin is a good friend of mine and a very hard worker,” Brion added. “He rode him (Scorpion’s Revenge) in his last bit of work and the Naylors were brilliant as always in letting him ride the horse. I just can’t thank Irv and Diane enough. They have been so wonderful to me.”
Sent off at 25-1 in the 2 mile 3 furlong race, worth approximately $11,760 in U.S. dollars, Scorpion’s Revenge was well placed on the outside and in the middle of the big field, then rallied with two furlongs to go, spurting to the lead. With about a furlong remaining, however, it looked like Shuil Donn, an 80-1 shot, was going to blow by the leader, but Scorpion’s Revenge dug in and drew off to a 1 ½ length win.
Scorpion’s Revenge will return to the U.S. with Brion and the rest of her team in mid-April, and compete as a maiden hurdler on the National Steeplechase Association circuit.
When asked what caught her eye about the horse, Brion said, “I was riding him out and rode him in a bit of work and knew he was made for America. Though he’s been back in training since January, he needs good ground so we had to wait for it to get better to run him.” Brion also acquired other talented runners such as French Light, Baltimore Bucko, A Silent Player, The Silent Trainer, and Zoom Zoom Zoe from Baltimore Stables.
As for the Naylors, when asked for an assessment of their European adventure, here’s what Diane had to say:
“Irv foxhunted in Ireland and England for many years and had great fun. From time to time, he bought and raced horses over there. It’s great fun to have a horse in the Grand National and Cheltenham and other venues, which we attended. Seeing friends and enjoying the race day whatever the outcome was thrilling. The atmosphere is just different, and the crowds amazing. It is a very different experience and hard to explain. We have had runners and winners in Ireland, also, but have not been there. After Irv’s accident, travel is much more difficult , and he would prefer to have horses here that he can watch. Would we do it again – will advise later!”
Here’s a link to the race replay: https://www.racingtv.com/results/ireland/322993-cork/04-Apr-2021/1710