Farm Ireland

Sunday 21 January 2018

New blood: Ballinasisla Stud is gearing up for a busy breeding season

Richie Fitzgerald with the stallion Ulysses m2s who has joined the team at Ballinasisla Stud for 2017
Richie Fitzgerald with the stallion Ulysses m2s who has joined the team at Ballinasisla Stud for 2017

Siobhán English

For over 30 years now, the Fitzgeralds of Ballinasisla Stud have been breeding top-class sport horses, amongst them Coolcorran Cool Diamond and Jokers' Girl.

They have also stood a number of successful stallions such as former international show jumpers Clover Flush, and more recently Royal Concorde.

This coming breeding season, however, is expected to be one of their busiest yet with the arrival of three new stallions to their base near Bonmahon in Co Waterford.

In addition, they already run a busy facility offering semen for both internationally-based sires and Irish showjumpers such as Hallowberry Cruz, as well as a thriving boarding yard for broodmares.

"We really are delighted that UIysses m2s, Mermus R and Hermes De Reve will also stand with us this year," commented Richie Fitzgerald, who runs Bonmahon Sport Horses along with his father Francis.

"We've had a tough few months, having lost our lovely stallion Master Blue during the summer, and to be honest, at times I was ready to throw in the towel," he continued.

"But we've to put that all behind us now in preparation for the season ahead which we hope will be busy with four stallions now at stud."

Last summer, the family had thoroughly enjoyed following the success of Bonmahon Master Blue competing on the international showjumping circuit with Captain Michael Kelly before tragedy struck in August when he succumbed to colic. It proved to be a bittersweet few months as one of his progeny, Bonmahon Blue Canyon, soon afterwards emerged as the highest-placed five-year-old in Sweden.

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"We were devastated to lose him but hopefully his legacy will continue through his stock as he had well over 100 foals on the ground before he died," Richie Fitzgerald noted.

Owned by Dermot and Carmel Ryan, their long-time resident Royal Concorde sired a limited number of progeny before his retirement from competition, but these do include the Grand Prix and Nations Cup performer, Annestown.

Since 2011, he has been standing at stud full-time and this year it is expected that many of the six-year-olds will be making an appearance on the national circuit.

Herme De Reve needs little introduction, having flown the flag for Ireland on numerous occasions with showjumper Clem McMahon. The Selle Français sire has now passed his talents on to his progeny, with dozens excelling in both showjumping and eventing.

These include three-star horses Gorsehill Pearl and Greenfort Hermes and 1.50-metre performers Riverside Ace and Papillion l'Odyssee.

Also joining Ballinasisla Stud for 2017 will be Mermus R, sire of such showjumpers as Peter Charles' Murkas Rupert R, and Ulysses m2s, sire of Shane Breen's five-star mount Millfield Ultymate.

In addition to standing stallions at stud, in recent years the Fitzgeralds have been diversifying into other areas within the equine business, and this is also proving a great success, both financially and with regard to making new contacts throughout Ireland and beyond.

Owing to demand, last year they began building up a herd of mares suitable for embryo transfer, and this has been working considerably well, as has their facility for boarding both thoroughbred and sport horse mares.

Richie Fitzgerald explained: "We work closely with both Euro Stallions and the Stallion Company, whereby we store semen for many of the stallions on their books.

"It was through this that we felt the need to purchase some mares for embryo transfer. We now have up to 25 mares here at any one time.

"We are pleased that we will also be promoting the sire Hallowberry Cruz this year and will be one of only three facilities to store his semen for 2017," he added.

In the run up to the 2017 breeding season, Ballinasisla Stud is hosting an open day on February 21, during which breeders can view the stallions currently based there.

"We are delighted that renowned horseman Arnold Koostra will also be there to give his views and to assess mares for breeders. We already have a lot of interest so this should be very beneficial to breeders," he concluded.

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