Horses: Checking out Irish stallions from abroad
Visitors from the Czech Republic were among those who took part in the inaugural ITM Irish Stallion Trail
Over the years Ireland has forged a strong relationship with racehorse trainers, thoroughbred breeders and owners from the Czech Republic.
With some 2,000 jump horses in training, and an equally healthy flat racing calendar, the influence of Irish bloodlines continues to blossom, with such winners as Luznice, Ray of Light and Donn Halling flying the flag in the past decade.
In addition, Irish trainers continue to support the famous Velka Pardubicka Steeplechase, dubbed the Czech Republic Grand National, held each October.
The pool of stallions in the Czech Republic stands at just 40. But it is hoped that the recent visit to Ireland by some 65 enthusiasts for the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing (ITM) Irish Stallion Trail will encourage more breeders to send some of their 400 or so broodmares to Irish sires during the 2015 breeding season.
The trip was organised by well-known Czech bloodstock agent Tomas Janda. In recent years he has purchased dozens of Irish-bred horses, both privately and through public auctions, many of whom started their racing career on one of the 16 tracks across the Czech Republic.
These include champion three-year-old Corcovada, and champion sprinters Waka Laura and Mikesh.
Janda was encouraged by the feedback from his companions during their five-day stay which also took in racing at Gowran, Dundalk and Leopardstown.
"The Stallion Trail was a great idea and it gave many of our owners a chance to see stallions ahead of the yearling sales next year," he said.