Irish Draught-type horses are back in vogue

Wexford-based horseman Aubrey Chapman will spend the winter schooling young sports horses for potential export

Aubrey Chapman competing on Cappa Cassanova at the RDS. (Louise O'Brien Pix)
Aubrey Chapman competing on Cappa Cassanova at the RDS. (Louise O'Brien Pix)

Siobhán English

The coming few weeks mark an exciting time for hunting enthusiasts across Ireland, but for the Chapman family it also signals the start of a busy season producing sport horses which, ultimately, will be aimed at the export market in 2016.

Well-known for their long association with the Island Hunt, George Chapman has been a joint-master for some 40 years, while sons Wayne and Aubrey also take an active role when time allows. Along with their mother Pam, the family specialise in other areas of equestrianism, particularly eventing and, in Wayne's case, thoroughbreds.

However, it is in the hunting field where the majority of these young horses get their early grounding, and Aubrey will spend the next five months schooling the large selection of young horses currently at their base in Glandoran outside Gorey.

"We produce a lot of young sport horses out of the hunting field each year, and many of those come with Irish Draught breeding being produced for the amateur market," Aubrey commented.

Over the years Aubrey and his family have built up a strong relationship with clients and a large percentage of their stock is now sold privately, particularly to the UK but also further afield to Holland and the USA.

"The demand is always there for a forward-going horse and we find that those by Irish Draught stallions are particularly well suited to our type of client."

Rather than go down the conventional route of the sales, Aubrey prefers to source his horses privately. He also keeps a handful of broodmares with traditional Irish Draught bloodlines, while some also boast sport horse breeding which makes them ideal for producing horses for the eventing circuits.

"Sires such as Classic Vision and Crosstown Dancer have produced lovely stock for us over the years, but more recently we have used Grange Bouncer and also Rebel Mountain."

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Two horses sired by Rebel Mountain to have recently left Glandoran are now hunting in the UK with the Beaufort and Tedworth hunts.

Coolcroonan Wood, by Sea Crest, is another RID to have sired some of Aubrey's show horses, and this includes the five-year-old Rock Star, who finished fourth in his heavyweight class at the RDS before heading to his new home in the UK. He is now hunting with the Middleton Foxhounds with his new owner Katie Stephens-Grandy.

Closer to home, Aubrey was also well placed at Dublin earlier this year with Una Holohan's Registered Irish Draught mare Ellistown Roxanne who finished third in her performance class, adding to her runner-up placing two-years earlier.

In addition to acting as a ridden hunter judge throughout the year, Aubrey has also previously enjoyed competing in the ring with the successful RID sire Cappa Cassanova for owner Jimmy Quinn.

"We have noticed that the Irish Draught type horse is definitely back in fashion and we also sell a number to the States each year. Most of those are geldings, as mares are much more expensive to export due to quarantine regulations."

However, as with many horse producers across the country, Aubrey said that the demand far outweighs the quality of horse available.

"We prefer to get them as two and three-year-olds but the nice horses are always hard to find at any age."

One such quality horse that has been flying the flag for them in recent years, however, is The Deputy, a son of the thoroughbred Cult Hero who is competing at four-star level in eventing with New Zealand rider Jonelle Price.


Others to have kick-started their careers with Aubrey include Andrew Nicholson's novice campaigner Chanting Fox, and Daisy Berkeley's Step Smartly. Both were sired by the thoroughbred Nigrasine.

Another to have recently left the Chapman's yard to pursue a career in eventing is a six-year-old by the deceased Irish Draught sire Grange Bouncer. Aptly-named Hell of a Bounce, he is competing at pre-novice level with Charlotte Rowe.

Having grown up surrounded by horses, Aubrey started competing from a young age, and the addition of the event course at Glandoran in the past decade has undoubtedly contributed greatly to the success of his business.

In addition to hunter trials and Riding Club events, Glandoran also hosts two Eventing Ireland competitions each year, and the recent one-day event again acted as a perfect training ground for some of the latest recruits at the yard. "The event has been going well for us since we started it up 10 years ago, but it's a busy place here all year-round between a yard full of horses and the farm itself, which also has some 150 ewes and 50 cattle," added Aubrey.

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