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Saturday 25 November 2017

'Brock' proving bloodline has that winning class

Siobhán English looks at the breeding behind recent Irish sport horse triumphs

Star of the show: William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero winning the Rolex Kentucky
Star of the show: William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero winning the Rolex Kentucky
Triumph: The Irish-bred Paulank Brockagh is only the fourth ever mare to win Badminton
Siobhan English

Siobhan English

Irish sport horses have featured in the news a lot in recent weeks following great wins at the Rolex Kentucky by Bay My Hero and at Badminton by Paulank Brockagh.

This double for Irish breeding is a tribute to the breeders and the tremendous bloodlines that produced these two horses as well as the many others flying the home-bred flag across the globe.

Last week the 11-year-old Paulank Brockagh became only the fourth mare to win the drama-filled Badminton title. In doing so, she also gave her Australian rider Sam Griffiths the biggest win of his career.

By the Irish sport horse Touchdown, who is by the Selle Francais stallion Galoubet, 'Brock' carries thoroughbred blood on both sides as Touchdown's dam, Lady Willpower, was by Cheyene.

Both Lady Willpower and Touchdown jumped internationally with James Kernan, and Touchdown went on to sire a number of world-class show jumpers, including the 2002 world champion mare Liscalgot. In addition, he also sired High Scope, who was the only stallion to compete in eventing at the 2000 Olympic Games when representing Ireland with Trevor Smith.

Paulank Brockagh's dam Calendar Girl, by Triggerero, was purchased at Tattersalls as a yearling. She never raced, but was instead kept as a broodmare.

Now 23, she has produced a number of sport horses over the years, but none with such natural ability as Brock.

Having graduated through the Future Event horse league here, the bay was sent to England as a seven-year-old to be groomed for the world breeding championships.

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"She finished eighth there and was purchased by Dinah Posford pretty much straight after that," said her breeder, Paula Cullen.

Ms Cullen knew that the mare would be given every chance to go to the top with Griffiths. Her decision to sell was justified when the combination moved up from 25th after dressage to win the world's most prestigious three-day event at Badminton.

Bay My Hero's thoroughbred sire Cult Hero was responsible for only a few winners on the track, but the former Wexford-based sire has left behind an incredible legacy as a producer of sport horse winners. In 2011 he was ranked second in the British Eventing Top 50 sires of seven and eight-year-old event horses in competition. One of the 13 horses contributing to his status at the time was Bay My Hero.

Four-star

In addition to William Fox-Pitt's winning ride for Britain in the Rolex, there are several others by Cult Hero which have competed at four-star level in eventing, including Westwood Mariner, The Deputy and Flying Machine.

Catania, who is the dam of The Deputy, also produced another four-star horse in Bru Maguire, who completed the Rolex in 2006.

Bred in Wexford by Bryan Maguire, Bay My Hero was also ridden on the Future Event Horse League circuit by David Richard. He was sold to England soon after and then returned to Irish soil with Fox-Pitt in 2010 to win the Tattersalls CCI*.

The following year he won the CCI** there and in 2012 returned to complete the treble at the venue with victory in the three-star. Now that he also has the Rolex on his list of achievements, he is said to be the only horse to have won at all four international levels of the sport.

Now 11 years old, Bay My Hero comes from a family of eventers by Cult Hero out of Maguire's prolific mare Bing Power. She has also produced the two-star campaigner Be My Hero, the up and coming seven- year-old Mooney Maguire and the eight-year-old Hip Hop Hero, who is progressing nicely up the ranks in England for Ruth Edge.

Bing Power carries the best of Irish Draught bloodlines. She is sired by Tomgar Power Crest (by Sea Crest) out of Coolbawn Lady (by King of Diamonds).

Coolbawn Lady herself produced some 20 foals and the 15-year-old Bing Power is still an active broodmare and soon due to foal to the British thoroughbred Superior Premium.

A Group 2 winner at Ascot, Superior Premium comes from a long line of winners on the track. His third dam Heaven Knows is closely related to another four-star horse Lenamore, winner of Burghley in 2010 (his third completion), and a bronze team medal for New Zealand in 2012.

He completed Badminton a record seven times before his retirement from eventing at the age of 20 during last year's event.

Lenamore, who was bred by the trainer Ted Walsh, is by the Registered Irish Draught sire Sea Crest out of the lightly-raced mare Karinella, by Valiyar.

It has been proven time and time again that thoroughbred blood is crucial for stamina when it comes to producing top event horses and the line-up, after one of the toughest Badmintons, makes for interesting reading.

Of the top 10 finishers, six carried substantial thoroughbred blood, with four of those six being bred here in Ireland.

As they say, the results speak for themselves.

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