A fair deal – straight from the horse's mouth

Ralph Riegel

HISTORY'S two great captains, Napoleon and Wellington, both had their legendary horses sourced from the Cahirmee Fair in north Cork, which is continuing to defy recessions and a changing horse industry.

The famous fair, which traces its roots back to Brian Boru, reflected one of the most difficult markets that Irish horse breeders have ever experienced.

"You always have a chance with a good, quality horse but price is a huge issue at the moment," James Slattery said.

"Lads have the money but they're just not sure about spending it," the north Cork horse breeder added.

For more than 300 years, Cahirmee has ranked as one of the most important horse fairs in the country. Its chief claim to fame is that two of history's most famous horses were, according to legend, bought here.

These include Marengo, the charger used by Napoleon, and Copenhagen, the charger used by the Battle of Waterloo's victor, the Duke of Wellington.

Experts regard Cahirmee as a great barometer of the health of the Irish sport-horse or non-thoroughbred sector.

Ireland's economic and fiscal crisis hit the equestrian industry particularly hard with many owners suddenly unable to afford the upkeep of horses.

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Animal charities have reported a huge increase in horses being abandoned or neglected.

However, dealers yesterday reported that while trade remains substantially down, demand has at least stabilised.

"There are good bargains to be had out there but everyone is still looking for a quality horse at the right price," Jimmy Fenton from Cork said.

An estimated crowd of more than 10,000 packed the north Cork town delivering a bumper day for local traders.

Irish Independent

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