We all know that horse breeding is not an exact science. A top stallion and a top mare do not always breed the best, but when it does, there is immense satisfaction.
There was no hiding the delight on the face of Cheryl Broderick of Ballypatrick Stables when the home-bred BP First Editions won the five-year-old national championship at the Dublin Horse Show in August.
"It was another great day - this is what breeding is all about," she says. "This is our second home-bred to win as Super Chilled was the six-year-old champion in 2014."
Cheryl and her brother Greg - a leading Irish show jumper - run one of the largest private sport horse breeding and production facilities in Ireland. And, with the numbers of foals and young horses increasing with each passing week, they are also fast catching up with their foreign counterparts as being the best in the business.
Today the breeding farm at Killahara, Co Tipperary is home to some 70 broodmares - a number of those being recipient mares - with a further 150, from foals and youngstock right through to international performers, based here or at Greg's main base outside Thurles or at rented land nearby.
Ballypatrick Flight, the dam of BP First Editions, is one of the most prolific mares to have joined the team in recent years.
A national champion as a seven-year-old, her pedigree is second-to-none as a half-sister to Greg's 2016 Olympic ride MHS Going Global. Bred by the late Ita Brennan, both are out of the Cavalier Royale mare Gowran Lady.
"Greg won a lot with her as a young horse so she was always going to be a valuable broodmare," Cheryl says.
Long before her competition career had ended, Greg and Cheryl had made the wise decision to obtain embryos from her for transfer to a recipient mare.
Embryo transfer in horses has been developing at a tremendous rate since the 1970s and is now proving to be hugely beneficial to breeding programmes, particularly in show jumping.
It is widely accepted as a valuable tool to increase the number of progeny from genetically valuable mares, many of whom continue to compete while a surrogate carries its foal for 11 months. Its growing popularity has now also made it affordable to breeders as more veterinary surgeons offer the service.
In her first year breeding, Ballypatrick Flight, by Laughton's Flight, produced two foals. The following year she produced three, including two fillies by Verdi. One of those was BP First Editions, who is now making waves under stable rider Darragh Ryan under the ownership of Ronan Rothwell and David Cullen.
Since 2012 Ballypatrick Flight has produced a further nine foals by top-quality international jumping sires.
To access these stallions Cheryl uses the services of both Stal de Muze in Belgium and Irish agent Emma-Rose Conroy of Euro Stallions.
In 2016 Ballypatrick Flight's foal by Quidam Junior I topped the elite foal sale at the Bolesworth International Show when knocked down to a Czech-based syndicate for just over €34,000. As a three-parts brother to MHS Going Global, he was always destined to be in high demand.
With MHS Going Global now jumping for Greece with Athina Onassis, the Brodericks have retained his full-sister, the three-year-old MHS Seven who also boasts an impressive pedigree that includes Grand Prix show jumpers Royal Athlete, Royal Anthem, MHS Automatic and Kilcoltrim.
One of this year's foals by Stakkato Gold out of Ballypatrick Flight was also put through the Bolesworth Auction where he fetched €40,000. He was sold to the Ukraine.
Another by Stakkato Gold out of BP Quidy, dam of Kevin Babington's multiple Grand Prix winner Super Chilled, also found a new home that same evening - the US-based Irish rider was the highest bidder at €26,000.
Super Chilled's dam Ballypatrick Codex was a multiple winner for Greg before retiring to the breeding shed.
In addition to owning some nice youngsters based at Ballypatrick Stables, Kevin's former 1.55m jumper Goodwins Loyalty, as well as several other mares, has recently joined the herd to start their breeding careers. This year Goodwins Loyalty produced two foals by Stakkako Gold and Comme Il Faut.
While all the Brodericks' home-breds are marketed for sale as foals, they are also dispersed as three-year-olds, with a select few retained to be broken and brought on by Greg and the team.
"We are a selling yard, so everything we have is for sale," Greg says.
In the past few months Greg has also bought in some very well-bred foals, including two from the family of double Olympic winner Sapphire, and the €17,000 sale-topper at the recent elite foal sale at Barnadown. By Kannan, this colt is from the same family as MHS Going Global.
In order to breed the best using top-class continental stallions, a top-class breeding herd is essential, and it is clear that Ballypatrick Stables already have one of the finest in Ireland.
Ballypatrick Mystique was another great servant to Greg in the early days, having picked up numerous young horse titles as well as bronze in the seven-year-old decider at the 2013 FEI World Breeding Championships. On the back of her success in Lanaken the mare was sold to Canada but two years earlier the Brodericks had obtained two embryos, resulting in two fillies by Indoctro. Both are now part of this valuable breeding programme and have so far produced foals by Stakkato Gold and Plot Blue.
A decade ago Greg enjoyed immense success on the National Grand Prix circuit with the Laughton's Flight mare Mrs Quinn, who is now retired and breeding winners.
From the same family as the Army's 1.60m campaigner Shannondale, she has produced eight foals so far. Her first produce, a colt by Plot Blue foaled in 2012, is now competing with much success in the young horse ranks under the name Quinnton. With Darragh Ryan in the saddle he won this year's RDS five-year-old qualifier at The Meadows.
"We also have a very promising three-year-old filly out of Mrs Quinn and by Cardento who is now with Greg. We have already flushed her so hopefully will get a foal from her too."
In recent months the Brodericks have acquired some high-profile Irish mares, including the former Puissance specialist Cruise Hill. To date the daughter of Cruising has produced just one foal, but Cheryl is optimistic that by using embryo transfer she may be able to breed again.
They have also secured Evening Star, the full-sister to Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum's European Championship winner Stella 153. "Stella died shortly after we got Evening Star and we have taken one embryo from her so far," Cheryl said.
Standing a stallion at stud was never in the programme for the Brodericks, but this year they have diversified with the superbly-bred three-year-old Jorado.
By the Holsteiner Diarado, he oozes presence and potential and is guaranteed to make an impact as both a show jumper and as a sire in time to come.
"We are also thrilled to have bought a full-brother to Elvis Ter Putte who will hopefully be stallion material in a few years. We feel this is the way forward," Cheryl concludes.
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