Tuesday 27 January 2015

Sligo man keen for NZ Olympic glory

Published 02/03/2010 | 05:00

BREEDING MAESTRO: John Anthony Cogan, Corlisheen, Co Sligo,
poses with his mare Connacht Gold, dam of Grass Valley, which has been chosen by Kiwi Mark Todd for the 2012 London Olympics.
BREEDING MAESTRO: John Anthony Cogan, Corlisheen, Co Sligo, poses with his mare Connacht Gold, dam of Grass Valley, which has been chosen by Kiwi Mark Todd for the 2012 London Olympics.

A Co Sligo farmer will have a keen eye on the London Olympics in two years time as he is the breeder of one of the competing horses.

John Anthony Cogan, from Corlisheen, near Castlebaldwin, bred Grass Valley, which has been chosen by Mark Todd, New Zealand's double gold-medal winner, for the eventing competition at the London Games.

Mr Cogan bred the gelding from his mare Connacht Gold and his stallion Legal Pressure.

The same dam also produced Riverstown Express, who has gone on to enjoy national eventing success.

Although he has been breeding horses for more than 40 years, with various levels of success, Mr Cogan admits this has been his biggest achievement to date.

"I'm delighted with this horse," he said. "You don't breed too many like this.

"It's lucky to get a horse like that and it happens only once in a lifetime.

Success

"I've been breeding horses on my own since 1970 and my people have been breeding them for hundreds of years. But it's usually other people who have this kind of success."

The Co Sligo man sold the foal to his neighbour, Leslie Conboy, who then sold it on to Stanley Nairn in Sligo, before it was bought by well-known Ballina-based dealer Bob Sweeney. After that, he lost track of the gelding and so has no idea how it made its way to New Zealand.

He said the stallion that sired the Olympic-standard foal does not have that many progeny.

Legal Pressure "didn't get near too many mares" in his lifetime due to his poor S1 (supplementary one) classification.

"Nobody wants the 'blue books', but I always felt he deserved a fully approved green passport," Mr Cogan added.

No stranger to animal breeding, the mixed farmer also breeds saddleback pigs.

Now his sights are firmly set on London and he hopes to see for himself how well Grass Valley competes at the Olympics.

Irish Independent

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