Farm Ireland

Thursday 27 October 2016

Seamus Lehane... Carving out his niche

A carpenter by trade, Seamus Lehane also has a gift for producing champion horses

Siobhán English

Published 17/06/2015 | 02:30

Winner: A beaming Seamus Lehane after Ballard Eagle picked up a red rosette and went on to win the Laidlaw Cup for the Overall Champion Young Horse at the Dublin Horse Show in 2010.
Winner: A beaming Seamus Lehane after Ballard Eagle picked up a red rosette and went on to win the Laidlaw Cup for the Overall Champion Young Horse at the Dublin Horse Show in 2010.
Seamus Lehane

Showing enthusiasts are spoilt for choice when it comes to top-class shows in the south of Ireland. Without doubt, Cork boasts some of the finest agricultural shows in Ireland.

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The upcoming fixtures at both the Cork Summer Show next weekend and Charleville the following weekend, from June 27-28, will give local owners an ideal opportunity to introduce some of their young horses to the show ring, and one such exhibitor who will be hoping for further success is Corkman Seamus Lehane.

Since the showing season kicked off over a month ago the Clonakilty native has been consistently in the ribbons with his young horses, a trend that has kept this popular showing enthusiast at the top of his game for just over 20 years.

From winning supreme championships at Leap Show, to the Main Arena of the RDS, he has done it all.

"But I still remember the day I won my first showing class in 1994 on my first ever outing. It was at the RDS too," he recalls.

"I had a yearling by Errigal Flight who had been doing well up to that so we decided to take him to Dublin.

"He was initially pulled in third before being announced as the winner of his class, and then claimed the reserve supreme title.

"Coincidentally a filly by Regal Sting who had been bred by my cousin PJ and sold as a foal actually won the championship for her new owner Willie Little."

It's not surprising to hear Seamus has been involved in horses all of his life. Although carpentry has been his main business for many decades, horses have been in his blood since childhood.

His late father Con showed Irish Draughts and Seamus often accompanied him to shows throughout the country.

"My first memory of the RDS actually goes back to 1968. Dad had a mare by Silvermines and I remember walking with her a mile from home to take the CIE coach to Dublin. For the journey I sat on a bale of straw with the late Tim Joe O'Donovan."

While Seamus still enjoys his annual trip to Ballsbridge, he is a loyal supporter of his many local shows each summer.

In recent weeks his three-year-old gelding Ballard Wise Guy has been in the winners' enclosure at both Clonakilty and Bandon and will next be headed for either Cork or Charleville.

His two-year-old gelding Ballard Jackson was reserve champion at Midleton and won at both Tralee and Bandon. Both are sired by Loughehoe Guy and were bred in Co Tipperary by Teresa Cairns.

"I have four horses on the go at the moment and it's hard to get them all out at once, so we rotate them at the various shows," he says, adding that Ballard Wise Guy has also qualified for the Galway Irish Crystal and Belleek China three-year-old All-Ireland Championship at Bannow and Rathangan next month.

Out of the Crosstown Dancer mare Crosstown Ruby, Ballard Wise Guy carries traditional Irish bloodlines, a formula that has proven successful for Seamus time and time again.

"I buy a lot of my young horses as foals and the majority carry traditional Irish bloodlines.

"There is one exception this year though - a yearling I bought by Luidam called Kingshill Formal Affair. He won his class at Bandon."


Over the past decade Seamus has shown many youngsters by Loughehoe Guy and also the thoroughbred, Ghareeb, sire of his 2014 Pembroke Cup winner, the home-bred Ballard Big Bang.

"Big Bang is a full-brother to Ballard Playboy who won his yearling title at the RDS in 2010. Both are out of a mare by Abdullah originally owned by PJ.

"Ballard Bouncer is another full-brother who was also sold to the UK. Sadly we lost the mare two years ago."

Seamus recalls 2010 as a year he will never forget. Sixteen years after winning his first red rosette at the RDS he claimed the supreme young horse championship with Ballard Eagle, a two-year-old by Master Imp. He then went on to win at Bannow 12 months later.

He returned from the RDS in 2010 with a treasure trove of silverware as he also won the yearling championship and Pembroke Cup accolades with Ballard Playboy, and a fourth-place finish for The Galway Girl, another by Loughehoe Guy. After her showing career she was retained as a broodmare.

The following year Ballard Playboy returned to retain his Pembroke crown, but sadly missed out on the hat-trick in 2012. He was later sold to the UK.

"Over the years we have sold a lot to the UK but now it is getting harder and harder to find nice ones as foals. I was lucky to find the one by Luidam in Galway and also a lovely colt by Colin Diamond in Kildare. He has also been well-placed in recent weeks and I think a lot of him."

Producing young horses is a full-time job but Seamus thoroughly enjoys dividing his time between his carpentry work and the yard.

"All the young horses get plenty of handling every day and my wife Ann and my daughter Fiona and son Duncan all help out when needed."

Seamus hopes his cousin PJ will also be in the ribbons. "He has been ill of late and has just undergone surgery so hopefully we will see him back in action again soon too," he says.

This summer there is no doubt that the Lehane name will continue to dominate in showing circles.

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