Lowry eyeing a rare Cheltenham-Sawgrass double

Bernie McGuire
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Shane Lowry. Picture by Getty Images

Shane Lowry is hoping to bring home an unprecedented and very unique Irish sporting victory double this week.

On Thursday, Lowry will tee-up at TPC Sawgrass looking to capture the Players Championship but on the eve of the $US15m (Euro 13.15m) event, Lowry’s thoughts will very much focus on the penultimate race at Cheltenham.

At 4.50pm Irish time (12.50pm US time) Wednesday, ‘Theatre of War’, a 4-year old gelding owned by Lowry’s Clara Jug syndicate, will line up in the Brodies Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, the sixth of seven races on day two ‘Ladies Day’ at the 2020 Cheltenham Racing Festival.

Lowry thought to himself in the weeks after capturing the 148th Open Championship how could he go about thanking those long-time friends who he grew-up with in his beloved Clara.

Step forward Lowry’s caddy Brian ‘Bo’ Martin.

“It’s funny how it came about as ‘Bo’ is friends with Gavin (Cromwell) and also friends with Feidhlim Cunningham who works with Gavin, and he’s been at me to get into a syndicate,” said Lowry.

“Then after winning The Open, I wanted to do something for my friends that I grew-up with from home so ‘Bo’ got in touch with Gavin and then me and all the lads went up to the yards and saw the horse and bought it.”

As a youngster, Lowry would travel with his parents to Galway and then when he turned 18, he and the ‘lads’ would head off to the races or meet-up at the local bookie shop on a Saturday morning.

“I’d love heading down to Galway and growing-up in the middle of Ireland, when you get to the age of having a few pints or whatever, you would go down on a Saturday to bet on a few horses and that’s what you do along with having a few drinks,” recalled Lowry.

“That’s how you would spend your weekend or whatever. Horse-racing is obviously a big thing down where we are with Kilbeggan not that far away so you would go around to Galway and then also get up to Leopardstown and stuff like that.

“So, I always loved going to the horse racing. I really enjoy it but I can’t say I know much about it.”

‘Theatre of War’ entered the racing world on the 13th February, 2016 sired by ‘War Command’ and dam ‘Final Opinion’.

In his first outing in June 2018, it finished third at Hamilton and then won its first race a fortnight later at Wolverhampton. From late 2018 to mid-2019 it then raced in Scotland before returning to Ireland to contest four races from the end of August to mid-October.

Then after a 73-day break, ‘Theatre of War’, now owned by the Clara Jug syndicate, lined-up at Leopardstown.

You can imagine the excitement two days after Christmas 2019 generated by Lowry along with his wife, his brother Alan and their family plus members of the syndicate and their families jumping with delight when the horse finished second.

Now after a 66-day break, the 10-1 shot ‘Theatre of War’ will join 23 other 4-year olds over two miles with the syndicate hoping it reaches the finishing post first to collect the £45,016 (Euro 51,623) winner’s cheque.

So, what chance does ‘Theatre of War’ have in winning for the Clara Jug syndicate?

“We were very surprised that it’s now 10-1 because he was 25-1 the other day, and all of a sudden, he’s now 10-1 and I would love to say it was my money on him but I don’t know what the story is,” said Lowry.

“He ran a great race at Leopardstown near Christmas and we all there for the race, and he ran very well.

“We were all very surprised he was that good and genuinely we were sort of thinking that if he doesn’t run great that day, what we were going to do but he ran great and nearly won there.

“We don’t know how he’s going to go this week. Gavin says he’s going quite well in training but we’d be happier if he was not 10-1 as 10-1 is too short for him. That’s what I have been told but I am just excited that he’s there at Cheltenham and running.”

Unfortunately, Lowry is in Florida and at odds of 67-1 (Ladbrokes), will be striving hard to capture a whopping $2.25m (Euro 1.971m) first prize cheque.

Fortunately for The Open champ, the race is during a TPC Sawgrass practice round.

“I’ve got a ‘dodgy box’ with me and I’ve got it hooked-up in my hotel room and I’m sure there will be a few of the caddies with me watching the race,” said Lowry smiling.

“We’ll have a few bets in the morning as I will be at the course on Wednesday, so I’ll be finding a way in watching the race.

“My brother is going to be there and he will be down in the parade ring so it’s all exciting and if he did have chance going up the hill and were to win, it would be marvellous.

“He hasn’t won for us yet so it would be great for the syndicate if he did win.”

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