On the trail of equine legends
Some of the country's top studs recently opened their doors to hundreds of visitors from at home and and abroad
Published 03/02/2016 | 02:30
Gleneagles, the multiple Group 1 winner, is among several exciting new sires to join the roster at Coolmore Stud and its associate farms this year.
Along with Ivawood and Kingston Hill, all three will join such champions as Galileo, his son Australia, and Camelot at stud for 2016.
Guests attending the recent Irish Thoroughbred Marketing (ITM) Irish Stallion Trail had a unique opportunity to see these equine stars at Ireland's top stud farm which was one of 28 farms in total to open up their doors ahead of the upcoming breeding season.
Following the success of the inaugural Stallion Trail in 2015, Coolmore Stud was delighted to be involved again this year and hosted several hundred thoroughbred owners, breeders and producers, as well as the general public, at the 7,000ac farm over two open days.
This coincided with a busy week of racing between the Thyestes Chase at Gowran and the Irish Champion Hurdle meeting at Leopardstown.
Over the course of the week racing enthusiasts from at home and abroad took in visits to several other farms such as Gilltown, Kildangan and the Irish National Stud in Kildare, as well as Castlehyde and Grange studs, both of which also come under the Coolmore banner.
Gilltown Stud is home to seven stallions including Sea The Stars and Born To Sea, both of whom are out of Urban Sea, also dam of Galileo.
Castlehyde and Grange studs share the roster of National Hunt stallions for Coolmore and both Ivawood and Kingston Hill have retired to Castle Hyde, while Grange's current residents include Fame And Glory, Leading Light and Milan.
Owner-breeder Jackie Humphries visited from the UK and said of her experience: "We were very impressed with the quality of the stallions available but even more so with the value the exchange rate represents for the boarding of our mares.
"As a breeder the margin between profit and loss is a narrow one and reducing our costs by sending our mares to Ireland is a sensible financial decision."
Ireland is home to some 13,500 thoroughbred broodmares, and 240 thoroughbred stallions.
During the breeding season which runs from February to May, Coolmore Stud alone will cater for several hundred mares in walk-in coverings, with a further 350 mares boarding at one of the many satellite farms on the outskirts of Fethard.
Not surprisingly, Coolmore's veteran resident, the 18-year-old Galileo, commands the highest numbers of mares - up to three per day - and has emerged as a leading sire in recent years following the death of his own sire, the remarkable Sadler's Wells, in 2011.
An unrivalled champion sire between 2010 and 2015, Galileo's 52 Group 1 winners to date include Frankel, Magician and Soldier of Fortune.
Australia, Ruler of the World, Gleneagles, and Rip Van Winkle are also among an elite group and these four stand alongside their sire at Coolmore.
Out of the great mare Ouija Board, the double Derby winner Australia covered his first mares last season and all will be keenly awaiting his first foals in the coming weeks.
Ruler Of The World is also an Epsom Derby winner and retired to stud in 2015.
Gleneagles is the latest member of this wonderful family to stand at stud, having been retired last October with seven wins to his name, including the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas and the St James's Palace Stakes.
He will stand for a fee of €60,000.
Other popular sires to stand at Coolmore again this year include another Derby winner in Pour Moi, as well as English and Irish 2000 Guineas winner Rock of Gibraltar, and 2015 Leading First Crop sire, Zoffany.
This year's Stallion Trail saw several new studs coming on board and all of those that participated were pleased with the increase in numbers countrywide.
ITBA chairman Derek Iceton stands Alhebayeb and Aljamaaheer at his Tara Stud and said of this year's trail: "The Stallion Trail was really great for us this year, with many more visitors in attendance, but more importantly from all over Ireland. We are very happy that we participated."
Darley's Kildangan Stud was another popular destination, estimating that 600 people passed through their gates for the trail, all keen to view the likes of Shamardal and Dawn Approach in the flesh, as well as new stallions Night Of Thunder and Shooting To Win.
"The Irish Stallion Trail was a fantastic weekend building on the huge success of 2015," said ITM's Marketing Manager Sarah Gavin.
"We saw increased numbers visiting the farms, in particular the smaller farms.
"The attendance was a good mix of owners, breeders and racing public, with overseas visitors from Britain, France, Italy, Germany and further afield. Breeders were particularly interested in viewing the new recruits joining the stallion ranks and this created even more interest."