Wednesday 28 September 2016

'I'd sooner be in a field than stuck in an office - that's why we love horses'

Published 07/10/2015 | 02:30

Pinhooker Denise O'Brien is making five figure profits on her thoroughbreds
Pinhooker Denise O'Brien is making five figure profits on her thoroughbreds

'I'd sooner be in a field than stuck in an office, even on a bad day," commented Denise O'Brien as she enjoyed a glorious autumn afternoon at the Goffs Sales.

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"This is what it's all about - this is why we love horses," she added as she reflected on another good dispersal of her yearlings at the annual auction.

"For this sale we produced a colt by Kodiac for his breeder Thomas Claffey which fetched €72,000, and a filly of our own by Dragon Pulse bought as a foal for 3,000 guineas, went for €31,000.

"It was a great result," added the Irish National Stud graduate, who in recent years has emerged as a very successful pinhooker from her base outside Athone.

Just a week before Goffs she had celebrated the sale of another two yearlings for a handsome return at Tattersalls Ireland, much to the delight also of her father Dick and business partner Lisa Houston.

From her home at Clonbonny Stud, Denise runs their joint pinhooking business, one which has seen them reap their rewards ten-fold on more than one occasion in the past decade.

"We've had some lean years but we've had some great ones too, particularly at Tattersalls as we sold a colt by Wooten Bassett for €80,000 and a filly by Elzaam which we bought for €3,000 as a foal went for €35,000."

It was back in 2006 when Denise first mooted the idea of pinhooking, having spent many years working in the thoroughbred industry, with such leading stud farms as Oak Lodge, Gilltown, and Meadowcourt.

In the intervening years she also completed an equine business course in Naas, as well as the world-renowned breeding course at the Irish National Stud, both of which offered her immense experience ahead of setting up her own business.

"Dad was always involved in thoroughbreds and often had horses in training with

Jim Bolger, so I knew I would always return home one day to go out on my own."

While her father runs a suckler herd, as well as tillage, Denise oversees the running of the yard which also houses a handful of home-bred descendents of her father's good race mare Nordic Tiara.

"We have had a few colts pass through our hands over the years but it's been mostly fillies as the colts we want usually end up making too much," Denise concluded.

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