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Independent.ie

Sunday 22 October 2017

Europe's top buyers flock to Mullingar

Pilot programme promotes Irish horses

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Several top international buyers of showjumping horses flew into Ireland over the weekend as part of a pilot programme aimed at promoting the trade for young horses here.

The programme, the brainchild of Mullingar International Horse Show director Robert Fagan, saw buyers from Germany, Poland and Switzerland arrive to assess the current stock of four-year-olds and upwards in this country.

Among the potential buyers was Dietmar Gugler, trainer of the German junior and young rider teams and well-known dealer of top international jumping horses.

He was accompanied by another top dealer, Andreas Krieg, the man behind the Krieg Sportpferde at Villingen-Norderstetten in Germany. A former Grand Prix and Nations Cup winner, Krieg now produces and sells some of the top showjumping horses in Europe.

Mayo native and Germany-based producer Carl Hanley had intended to travel home for the show, but was unable to attend at the last minute after his young stable jockey Alex Duffy got the call from Robert Splaine to jump for Ireland at the St Gallen Nations' Cup.

Polish buyer Jan Chrzanowski, who works in partnership with Swiss-based Irish rider Niall Talbot, and Ciaran Howley also travelled to Mullingar to see the type of horses Irish breeders and producers had on offer at the show.

Pat McCartan was involved in organising the trip for potential buyers and said the aim was to market Irish horses to potential new markets.

"The idea was to bring these buyers across and make some connections with Irish riders, breeders and producers," he explained. "If we can make those connections, it could open new doors for Irish horses abroad. It's important to remember that while these buyers are in the market for top horses, they are also looking for horses suitable for riders of all abilities.

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"They are interested in buying good horses for amateurs all the way up to top international Grand Prix riders and we can cater for all levels in the horses we have here," he added.

The group were invited to monitor the progress of this year's five-, six- and seven-year-old showjumpers, who were jumping at the prestigious show in the Irish Sport Horse Studbook league.

Horse Sport Ireland chairman Professor Pat Wall said having visitors over to see large numbers of Ireland's best horses in action demonstrated the vibrancy of the industry.

Some 3,000 entries were received for the show, with over 400 horses stabled on site and many more stabled locally.

"All efforts to attract top buyers to Ireland have to be encouraged if we are to position Ireland as a centre for sourcing quality animals and also if we are to understand what type of animal these buyers are seeking," he maintained.

Show director Robert Fagan said he hoped the move would deliver benefits for Irish breeders and producers of jumping horses.

The four-day CSI2*show, which began on Friday and concluded yesterday, is now in its 21st year and sixth as an international. It has become a major fixture on the Irish showjumping calendar, with almost €80,000 in prize money won over the weekend.

DEVELOPED

In recent years, the show has developed to include a wide variety of events aside from showjumping. This year's show included live music, a food fair, dog shows and a hunt chase, as well as ridden hunter and working hunter classes.

Mullingar was also the second stop on the Connolly's Red Mills Great Britain and Ireland Tour (GBI Tour). The tour started at Chepstow International from May 2-5 and continued at Mullingar over the weekend.

The next show on the tour is the Royal Highland Show in Scotland (June 21-24), followed by the British Masters at Southview, England (June 29-July 1) before returning to Ireland for the Millstreet International Horse Show from August 7-12. The tour has a total prize fund of €10,000 to be split with €7,000 for the tour's leading rider, €2,000 for the runner -up and a further €1,000 for the leading rider aged under 25.

Irish Independent