€8.15m sale of Arkle's birthplace is linked to Dunnes Stores co-owner
The famed Ballymacoll Stud, the birthplace of Arkle, has been sold to a mystery buyer for €8.15m, with speculation rife in the bloodstock sector that the buyer is Frank Dunne of the Dunnes Stores family.
The 294-acre holding on the outskirts of Dunboyne, Co Meath, changed hands at auction at the Shelbourne Hotel and was bought by a solicitor in trust.
Mr Dunne, who holds one-third of Dunnes Stores, lives at Hamwood stud farm, which is located next door to Ballymacoll, the farm which is best known for breeding the three-times Cheltenham Gold Cup and one-time Irish Grand National winner.
The property was sold after a dramatic last-minute bidding intervention from the back of the room just as the hammer was about to fall at €7.65m. It caused bidding to continue on again until Ballymacoll was hammered down to Peter Walsh of Orpen Franks and Co.
The property, which was sold through the Irish estate agency REA Coonan and London-based Knight Frank, has 70 loose boxes and ancillary buildings which include a manager's residence.
It was previously acquired by Lord Michael Sobell, the industrialist and philanthropist and his son-in-law Arnold Weinstock (later Lord Weinstock) in 1960.
Later in 1974, his son Simon Weinstock became an active partner. Weinstock jnr died tragically in 1996 aged just 44, and Lord Weinstock passed away in 2002. The vendors had been seeking €13m for the stud with the horses included - but failing to achieve success, they took the property to auction on Tuesday minus the animals. The property had been managed by Peter Reynolds for 45 years.
Built by Henry Hamilton towards the end of the 18th Century, Ballymacoll has had many owners and tenants over the years including the famous Tammany Hall chieftain, Boss Croker. It was also owned by the Irish Army, which occupied the farm during World War II.
In 1946, it was bought by Dorothy Paget who never visited Ballymacoll but actively built its equestrian reputation until her death in 1960.
Attempts to contact Mr Dunne were unsuccessful last night.