Farm Ireland

Thursday 15 November 2018

Derby winner who is built like a chaser

Anne Fitzgerald talks to Paddy Kinsella about the pedigree of his stud Darsi

THE first time that Paddy Kinsella of Beechbrook Stud saw Darsi was when he tuned in to watch the running of last year's Irish Derby. Little did he know that he would end up standing the horse at stud.

"I had no interest in anything in particular other than it was the Derby and what it might throw up in terms of prospective sires," said Paddy.

What did strike him was a remark by commentator Ted Walsh who described one runner after the other as a typical flat horse until he came to Darsi, "the French man" which he said was built like a chaser, the kind of horse that he would like to ride down to a fence.

Bred by the HH Aka Khan, Darsi went into training with Alain de Royer-Dupré in France and won an autumn maiden on his second start. Then, last year, he again won on his second start, this time the Prix de Courteuil in Chantilly over 12½ furlongs. Next run he won the Prix du Jockey Club and went from there to the Irish Derby where connections firmly expected him to be a serious opponent to Dylan Thomas. However, he broke a sesamoid bone during the race and finished fifth, lame. It was a career-ending injury.

It was late into the summer when Paddy got word through Anthony Bromley of Highflyer Bloodstock that Darsi might be for sale. In the interval, the horse had gone back to the Aga Khan's yard in Chantilly where he had to be confined to his box for 12 weeks.

Paddy first saw Darsi in the flesh in September and his reaction was "wow, he is a big imposing horse". He was still a racehorse but all the ingredients for a stallion were there, he adds.

By way of explanation, Paddy points out that, for a horse to appeal to breeders, he has to look more like a showhorse than a racehorse and be about 2-4 hundredweight heavier. "First impressions are critical. If, in ten years time, a horse is successful, it's not too important what he looks like but, to get mares in the first place, he has to look the part."

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A syndicate then came together to buy Darsi and he arrived at Beechbrook in the autumn where he began a new regime of exercise and feeding. First on to the horse-walker, Paddy gradually started walking him in long lines and built this up to almost an hour a day, which continued throughout the winter.

It was nearly December before Paddy let any breeders view him but they have obviously been impressed. "Hand on heart, anyone who has seen him has booked into him. There has not been a flood of people but we have never found it as easy to sell a horse," said Paddy.

"Most stallions have some degree of pedigree and performance but he also has a fantastic physique," said Paddy "standing a strong 16.2hh, with bone and presence to match."

This is the first time they have stood a four-year-old and Paddy is anxious that he would not be "overburdened" at the start so is hoping that he will, this year, get into "100 plus mares" but not many more.

"100 is a kind of psychological barrier, almost as if a horse is successful if he breaches it and not if he doesn't."

It looks as though they won't have too much difficulty reaching this target. He has already been booked to over 80 mares, 25 of them with Black Type pedigree.

Stud fee is ?2,500, "bottom basement, nothing less" says Paddy, with determination. But, then, as he points out "He is a Derby winner. If he had won or even been placed in the Irish Derby, chances are that he would be in Gilltown or somewhere like it, at maybe ten times the fee."