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Sunday 28 May 2017

Free Eagle ready to soar again for Moyglare Stud

The Dermot Weld-trained Group One winner is the latest success story for the Moyglare equine empire

Free Eagle (left) ridden by Pat Smullen wins from The Grey Gatsby, ridden by Jamie Spencer, in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot last June
Free Eagle (left) ridden by Pat Smullen wins from The Grey Gatsby, ridden by Jamie Spencer, in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot last June
Siobhan English

Siobhan English

Breed from the best to the best. It has been a motto held dearly by Moyglare Stud for over 50 years and one which will undoubtedly carry through to the next era for the Kildare-based private farm.

With Free Eagle set to fly the Moyglare flag once again this weekend, his owner Eva-Marie Bucher Haefner is silently hopeful that the four-year-old colt can add the Irish Champions Stakes to his glorious résumé before a possible tilt at the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe next month.

Winner of the Group 3 KPMG Enterprise Stakes on only his third run in Leopardstown last September, the Dermot Weld-trained colt returned from a long absence off the track through injury to land the Group 1 Prince of Wales´s Stakes at Ascot in June.

On Saturday afternoon he takes on the might of such rivals as 2014 winner The Great Gatsby, 2015 Classic winners Golden Horn, Gleneagles and Pleascach in the €1.1 million feature race at Leopardstown.

"It has always been this way for the Haefners, to try to find ways to help Irish breeders, and Irish racing, so Eva-Maria is delighted that Free Eagle will stand at the Irish National Stud when he retires," commented their sales and breeding advisor Fiona Craig.

"She is very like her father Mr Haefner, in that way.

"She made the decision last year not to sell him to the highest bidder, but to syndicate him to stand in Ireland.

"At the Irish National Stud he will get the best chance, and so will Irish breeders."

Free Eagle is just the next chapter in the success story of Moyglare which has established itself as one of the most successful private breeding farms in the history of racing.

It was back in the late 1960s that Moyglare first caught the attention of racing enthusiasts when becoming the most consistent breeder of sales-topping yearlings both in Europe and the USA.

At the same time it also became one of the first European-based studs to send mares from Europe to Kentucky to visit US stallions.

These mares included Irish Lass, whose filly Irish Bird, by Sea Bird, went on to produce French Derby winners Bikala and Assert.

Over the next decade founder Walter Haefner also purchased mares to remain in the US and in 1973 one such mare, What a Treat, produced a special foal by Northern Dancer.

That colt was Be My Guest, who went on to top the Goffs Sales when sold as a yearling to Vincent O'Brien for 127,000 guineas.

He later became one of the most influential foundation sires at Coolmore Stud.

By the end of the 1970s Moyglare Stud was profiting from its sales and only then did Mr Haefner decide to make a big change and retained all the stock to race from foals from 1980 onwards.

Winners

One of his first notable winners was Go And Go, a son of Moyglare-bred Be My Guest and out of the Moyglare-bred mare Irish Edition who won the Belmont Stakes in 1990 for jockey Michael Kinane and trainer Dermot Weld.

Mr Haefner always called this a double victory for Moyglare, having bred both sire and dam.

Since then the Kildare-based trainer has remained firm friends with the family.

Dermot Weld has saddled hundreds of winners for Moyglare Stud, with 40 of their horses currently in training at Rosewell House.

In addition to Free Eagle is British Champions Long Distance Cup winner Forgotten Rules, Dance Design Stakes winner Carla Bianca and Group Stakes winner Afternoon Sunlight.

Forgotten Rules, who is entered for Sunday's Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger, won on his first start for Robbie McNamara in 2014.

In a tribute to the rider who suffered a career-ending fall last April, Eva-Maria will donate a percentage of the five-year-old's 2015 earnings to the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund.

Some 35 broodmares currently reside at Moyglare Stud and two-thirds of those trace back to five important foundation mares.

These include Grenzen, the granddam of Go And Go, as well as other Group 1 winners Refuse To Bend and Casual Conquest, and Melbourne Cup hero Media Puzzle.

Another influential mare was Talking Picture, who produced Trusted Partner, winner of the 1988 Irish 1,000 Guineas and dam of 11 winners, including Polished Gem.

Polished Gem is the dam of Group 2 winners Custom Cut, and Sapphire, and Free Eagle. This year Sapphire produced her first foal, a colt by Invincible Spirit.

In 1989 Stan Cosgrove purchased the Group 1 winning race mare Aptostar out of Fasig-Tipton and she went on to produce another impressive line of champions.

One of her daughters, In Anticipation, had a hugely successful career at stud.

Among her descendents are Irresistible Jewel, Royal Diamond, Mad About You, Princess Highway, Profound Beauty, Carla Bianca and this year's good two-year-old True Solitaire, who is also a likely runner over Irish Champions Weekend.

Princess Highway, who finished third in the Irish Oaks, is one of six Moyglare mares residing in the US. This year she produced a filly by War Front.

Today many elite home-bred mares reside at Moyglare Stud and Profound Beauty is one who holds pride of place. A winner of nine races and runner-up in the Irish St Leger, she produced a colt this year by Dubawi.

"We have a very special band of broodmares here which also include the Group 1 winner Switch (purchased for $4.3 million at Fasig-Tipton in 2012), in addition to Casual Conquest's dam Lady Luck and Forgotten Rules' dam Utterly Heaven. Since day one the emphasis was always on the quality of the broodmares, and that approach has never wavered to this day," said Fiona.

senglish@independent.ie

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