Farm Ireland

Thursday 26 April 2018

Missing link: cancellation of the Croker Cup class at the RDS is big blow

The cancellation of the Croker Cup class at the RDS is a big blow to thoroughbred stallion owners, reports Siobhán English

Niamh Varley and John Varley with Elusive Emir
Niamh Varley and John Varley with Elusive Emir

Over 60pc of the foals entered for this year's Breeders' Championship at the Dublin Horse Show are by thoroughbred stallions, yet there will be no showcase for their sires following the cancellation of the Croker Cup once again.

Reduced to a parade for a number of years before being re-introduced last year, the Croker Cup has in the past served as a fantastic shop window for such sires as the 2015 winner Elusive Emir, who this year will instead be represented at the show by several of his yearlings and foals in their respective classes.

"I am so disappointed that the class has gone, but to be honest there is little incentive for people given the high costs of actually getting there and the fact there is no prize-money," said John Varley, owner of Elusive Emir.

"The prize-money for the Irish Draught stallions is phenomenal - €1,800 to the winner - yet you don't see too many Irish Draughts winning the Breeders' Championship.

"I supported the thoroughbred stallion for class for three years with Elusive Emir and every year we got new mares out of it. Last year when he won the phone never stopped ringing and he covered well over 80 mares this year. On top of that we had offers to buy him from people in Germany and Holland.

"In my opinion an entire review needs to be done to get the class back to the RDS. If they could get a sponsor to come on board and have prize-money it would encourage owners again. Had we known in time that there were so few entries I would have definitely returned to support it again," he said.

Mr Varley noted that, in the case of his stallion, there was a huge resurgence in the number of Irish Draught mares being covered this year. "It was encouraging to see so many breeders going down the 'traditional' route," he said.


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A glance at the entries for this year's Breeders' Championship also shows that a considerable number of mares being shown with their foals by thoroughbred sires are themselves Irish Sport Horse/thoroughbred crosses, with a small number boasting warmblood breeding.

One exception is the former international show jumper Castleforbes Libertina who will be shown in-hand for the first time with her first foal, a filly by the Dutch Warmblood sire Kannan.

Owned by Lady Georgina Forbes, the mare was retired from competition in 2011 following an incredible few years on the circuit with Jessica Kurten.

Two former RDS winners also return to the fold this year, namely Derry Rothwell's Millennium Cruise, a winner in 2011, and Assagart My Only Hope, who claimed the title in 2014. The Roches' mare will this time be shown alongside her colt by the thoroughbred sire Coroner, while the highly-prolific Cruising mare Millennium Cruise will be aimed at reclaiming her title with a filly by Dignified Van't Zorgvliet.

Millennium Cruise also won this title as a foal back in 1998 with her dam Greenhall Cailin Deas and that legacy now continues with Millennium Cruise's half-sister Greenhall Diamond Lady, by Colin Diamond, also entered with her colt by the thoroughbred Island Commander.

The Rothwell's trio of entries is completed by their 2013 runner-up Greenhall Indicator and her colt by resident sire Greenhall.

Spirit House, Financial Reward, Island Commander and Craig Steel are among the other thoroughbred sires represented by foals.

The Breeders' Championship takes place at 11.55am on Friday morning.

John Varley and his daughter Niamh celebrate after Elusive Emir won the Croker Cup

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