Dundalk race course legend Togoville, the little-known grey who became champion jockey Pat Smullen’s final winner and has won more races at Dundalk than any other horse, heads to his favourite track on Sunday for one last time – but he won’t be racing. The 11-year-old, trained in Monaghan at Shabra Stables by Anthony McCann, is owned by prominent Armagh businessman Patrick McCann, and on February 26 won his final and record 14th Dundalk race. It was the third leg of an unprecedented treble that began with a neck victory just 14 days earlier, and the team had hoped he could sign off with his 17th career victory this weekend. However, McCann, who took over training the son of Verglas late in 2017, has seen age finally creep up on his 85-rated charge.
We gave him a run in an 85-rated race a couple of weeks ago and he found it hard to go with them. The spark seems to be there, but he doesn’t have the legs for it anymore and we couldn’t live with ourselves if he was injured,
Following discussions with Patrick the owner it was decided it was time to allow Togoville enjoy his retirement.
“He has crept too far back up the handicap and we want to do what’s best for him, so he will visit Dundalk one last time this weekend to be honoured for his record there, and will then be retired to Patrick’s farm – he bought him as a yearling ten years ago at Tattersalls Ireland and he is so proud of what he’s achieved.”
Since moving to McCann’s yard, Togoville has won seven times, his most memorable win coming under the late Pat Smullen at Dundalk. It was a four-runner conditions race and he beat the 100-rated Primo Uomo by half a length.
McCann recalled: “We didn’t think it was going to be his day. He stumbled out of the stalls and himself and Primo Uomo took each other on coming up the straight, but he just stayed on better.”
“It was a fantastic win and at the time, back in 2018, we never dreamed it would be Pat’s last winner. He was a true gentleman. He only rode for me a couple of times and was always so professional. He treated me the same as everyone else. It didn’t matter that I was Anthony McCann, I was given the same respect as if I was Dermot Weld – and I will always remember that about him.”
Ten days after that win, Smullen revealed he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was to take time out of riding for treatment. The nine-time champion jockey officially retired in May the following year, and sadly passed away in September 2020. The ever-versatile grey also notched up a win on the beach at Laytown and over 7f at Roscommon.
Togoville’s retirement leaves a hole in the fabric of McCann’s small yard as the all-weather hero has become part of the furniture.
“Everyone gets on with him,” said McCann.
He can be a grumpy so and so if he doesn’t get his own way. When he does though, he will click for you. He’s been a very good servant to me and I’m so happy that he is retiring in full health back to a wonderful home at Brookland Stables with Patrick and his family.
Jim Martin, manager of Dundalk stadium has invited Togoville to Dundalk for his final racecourse appearance. “We are delighted to make a presentation to Togoville and his connections this Sunday at our Winter Finals meeting. He has been both a mainstay and a legend at Dundalk Stadium since his first win back in January 2015. What he achieved in February of this year was remarkable for a horse of his age, it is a credit to the team at Shabra and to Anthony to have a horse who could return time and time again and be so competitive. It is wonderful to see a horse like Togoville retire at the top of his game.”
Togoville in Numbers
14 wins at Dundalk
5f-1m – the distances he has won over
96 – highest winning rating
100 – highest rating
8 – number of different jockeys who rode him to his 16 wins
365 furlongs / 45.6 miles – distance he has raced around Dundalk in his life
26th February 2021 – date of his final win
7th July 2014 – date of his first win
5th December 2014 – date of his first win at Dundalk. He didn’t win at any other track after that!
Dundalk Record – 14 wins | 8 seconds | 5 thirds | 56 runs