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Tuesday 25 April 2017

New blood: Knockhouse stud adds two exciting stallions to its legendary fold

Sean Kinsella with the stallion Notnowcato
Sean Kinsella with the stallion Notnowcato
Sean Kinsella in 1988 with Roselier, a photo which appeared on the front page of The Irish Independent
Siobhan English

Siobhan English

Few will remember the great National Hunt sire Roselier gracing the front page of the Irish Independent on December 21, 1988, but for Sean Kinsella, it is a day forever etched in his memory.

"It was like winning the Lotto," commented the owner of Knockhouse Stud which was home to the grey for 17 years until his death in 1998.

"The night before we'd had a visit from the racing journalist Damian McElroy - little did we know they had intended printing the image the very next day. It was incredible publicity for us, especially with it being on the front cover," he added.

Acquired in France as a six-year-old, Roselier was a legend of his time. Covering only a dozen mares in his first two seasons here, he went on to be one of the most in-demand stallions and was responsible for most of the top hurdlers and chasers during the 1980s and 1990s, siring such major winners as Ebony Jane, Carvill's Hill, Royal Athlete and Bindaree, and in later years as damsire to many others including Grade 1 winner Champagne Fever.

Sean Kinsella in 1988 with Roselier, a photo which appeared on the front page of The Irish Independent
Sean Kinsella in 1988 with Roselier, a photo which appeared on the front page of The Irish Independent

"He really was the one who put our name on the map as home to National Hunt sires," added Sean, who to this day continues to uphold this great tradition from his grandfather John and late father Pat Kinsella.

Nestled near the village of Kilmacow and close to Waterford City, for over 30 years Knockhouse Stud has been associated with hundreds of winners in racing, from the point-to-point field right through to Grade 1 on both sides of the Irish Sea, although it was within the sport of show jumping that some will first remember the Kinsella name.

"For a long time my father was only involved in half-breds and stood such stallions as Hildenley and Ben Purple for sport horse breeders."

Hildenley was best known to Irish breeders as the sire of David Broome's top showjumper Last Resort, winner of the 1983 Amsterdam Grand Prix and several World Cup qualifiers in the same era. Originally named Phoenix Park when owned by Canadian Torchy Miller, it was said that in order to buy the horse, Broome offered Miller one final offer as a 'last resort', hence the change of name.

Ben Purple needs little introduction as one of the most prolific Irish Draught sires of his generation, with stallion sons including Ben Calverstown, Clontoo Lad, Holycross and Powerswood Purple. He was also a notable damsire and two of his daughters include Purple Heather, dam of Sydney Olympic gold medallist Custom Made, and Kildalton Countess, dam of numerous top sires including Diamond Lad, Kildalton Gold, Kildalton King and Glidawn Diamond.

In the latter years, Knockhouse Stud also stood the stallions Remainder Man, Derring Rose, Muroto, Lord Of Appeal and Subtle Power, although none brought them such success in the past 20 years as Beneficial.

Like Roselier, the son of Top Ville dominated the 'Leading Sires' tables for many years, and was responsible for in excess of 530 winners over jumps, with some of his best progeny including Cooldine, Monksland and Mount Benbulben.

After Beneficial's untimely death in 2013, Sean Kinsella set about building up a new band of stallions and this included Notnowcato, who arrived at the stud in November of that same year. In his third season, he covered 170 mares and Sean is optimistic that he will prove just as popular for 2017.

Winning three Group 1 races in a glittering career, it was only when arriving at Knockhouse that he really began attracting National Hunt breeders, having spent the first six years covering Flat mares at Stanley House Stud in Newmarket.

Last year, his rise through the NH stallion ranks continued when Old Guard took the Grade 2 stanjames.com International Hurdle at Cheltenham. Some weeks earlier, the stallion had enjoyed his first Grade 1 winner with Long Dog's win in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse and all was looking promising until the horse's tragic death at Cheltenham last March.

Other NH winners include Ruby Rambler, Waterclock, Carry On Sydney, Notnowsam, Last Shadow, Itsnowcato, Mr Maynard and Kozmina Bay.

While Libertarian and Prince Flori continue to gain interest at the stud, this year, Sean Kinsella has added two new exciting horses to the fold in Workforce and September Storm.

"We are really thrilled to have Workforce standing with us this year - it was thanks to John McCormick that we acquired him," Sean commented.

After an illustrious career on the track which was highlighted by a Derby/Arc double in 2010, he spent a short time in Japan. "We've had a good few enquiries for him already so hopefully he will prove to be a success here," he added.

Also new to the roster is September Storm. A former resident at Ballyash Stud in Co Down, he does not have a huge amount of runners at present, but among those showing promise are Alan King's promising hurdler Mia's Storm and the Alan Browne-trained point-to-pointer Wind Of Hope.

"Sadly the standard of mares has reduced in recent years, and is still dropping, and my motto is always quality over quantity, but business is brisk once the phone keeps ringing," Sean noted.

"We run a busy farm here also with beef and sheep, so there's never a dull moment and always something to do. We've plenty of help here too with my wife Geraldine and daughters Janet, Rachel, Susan, as well as son-in-laws Alan and James.

"I have found the Irish Stallion Trail to be a great shop window for our stallions and it is a good opportunity to meet both existing and new clients in a relaxed atmosphere over a cup of tea," he concluded.

Stud farms gear up for Stallion Trail

Knockhouse Stud is among 27 stud farms that will open their doors to the public for the ITM Irish Stallion Trail on Friday, January 27 and Saturday, January 28.

Now in its third year, the Stallion Trail takes place in between two premium days of racing, with the Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase at Gowran Park on Thursday, January 26, followed by the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday, January 29.

Currently seven of the top 10 sires in Europe are standing in Ireland and the open days offer breeders the opportunity to see these great stallions ahead of the 2017 breeding season.

Commenting on the ITM Irish Stallion Trail, ITM's Marketing Manager, Sarah Nash, said: "The 2016 ITM Irish Stallion Trail was a fantastic weekend building on the huge success of 2015. People interested in attending the trail can register through the ITM website."

The full list of stud farms is confirmed as: Anngrove Stud, Annshoon Stud, Arctic Tack Stud, Ballyhane Stud, Ballylinch Stud, Boardsmill Stud, Bridge House Stud, Burgage Stud, Castlehyde Stud, Coolagown Stud, Coolmore Stud, Derrinstown Stud, Garryrichard Stud, Gilltown Stud, Grange Stud, Irish National Stud, Kildangan Stud, Knockhouse Stud, Rathasker Stud, Rathbarry & Glenview Studs, Rosshill Stud, Sunnyhill Stud, Tally-Ho Stud, Tara Stud, The Beeches Stud, Tullyraine House Stud and Whytemount Stud.

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