Aidan Fogarty is out to extend his 100 per cent British strike-rate to the rarefied surrounds of Royal Ascot when Forever In Dreams bids for Group One glory in the Commonwealth Cup.
Fogarty has the filly to thank for making him an instant hit on British soil, with his first foray from Ireland, when she decisively accounted for a Listed field at Haydock last month.
That victory in the EBF British Stallion Studs Cecil Frail, alongside the trainer’s old Tipperary friend and owner-breeder Con Marnane, has convinced both men their Ascot entry for the grey is far from fanciful.
Marnane, older brother of trainer David, has enjoyed much success with horses in his wife Theresa’s colours – at Ascot with 2017 Albany Stakes heroine Different League, for example – as well as selling on more than a hundred Group or Listed winners from his base at Bansha House Stables.
He and Fogarty, who joined forces only this year despite a near lifelong friendship, cut a lively double act in the Haydock winner’s enclosure as they celebrated Forever In Dreams’ winning performance.
The trainer reports she has continued to thrive, and he is not shy to entertain the prospect of doubling up on the biggest stage this month.
At the suggestion he has a chance to add to his perfect British record, he said: “Two out of two would be quite handy!
“She goes to the Commonwealth Cup next, please God.
“She’s travelled home brilliantly, and she’s in great form. She’s just done her first piece of work back, and she went really well – we’re very, very happy with her.”
Forever In Dreams was formerly trained for Marnane in France by Matthieu Palussiere, and was beaten under two lengths in seventh by Signora Cabello in last year’s Queen Mary Stakes at Ascot.
“It’s all systems go. She’s a genuine filly,” Forgarty added.
“She probably needs to improve a bit, but I hope she’ll be able.
“She ran very well (there) last year. She’s a big, strong filly and looks like she should improve for a three-year-old – and it looks like that’s the way she’s going about things.
“This time of the year too, when fillies start to improve, you never know where they’re going to stop.”
Previously successful over jumps with horses owned by his father, the destinations on Fogarty’s British expeditions to date have come as something of a personal surprise.
Would he not, surely, have envisaged taking in Cheltenham or Aintree before Royal Ascot?
“Exactly, exactly,” he said.
“I never thought I’d have a runner in a six-furlong sprint even.”
As for the ceremonial attire he may be needing for his big date, those are arrangements he will be happily delegating.
“I’ll leave that to the wife – she can sort all that out for me,” he said.
“I’ve never been in Ascot, never even been at a sale in Ascot.”
He has the fruition of his long association with Marnane to thank for the sudden twist of fate, after the latter decided it made sense to run some of his horses in his native Ireland.
Fogarty added: “I’ve known Con since I was a child, just living four or five miles away from him. We’ve known each other since I was very small.
“My father and I bred horses, and he had National Hunt stallions. So we had a good few horses round the place, and that’s how I taught myself how to train really.
“I trained a few for him, and we had a bit of success – we trained the ones we couldn’t sell. Then for the last four or five years, I’ve been working with Con at the breeze-ups.
“That’s how it all came about.”
Marnane takes up the tale, hoping it will lead seamlessly for him and his “very old friend” from Haydock back on to Ascot – all the sweeter if so, with a filly he bred himself.
“We’ve had a really good run at Royal Ascot,” he said.
“We’d Different League and Prince Of Lir – so in the last three years there, we’ve had two two-year-old winners.
“Some of them are home-breds, and others are ones we kept that we didn’t get sold at breeze-up sales. If we don’t sell, there’s no other choice but to put them into training.
“We’ll see what happens this time. The dream is alive at the moment anyway.”