McMahon hopes win can spur him into Irish team
Time and patience were rewarded for 33-year-old Monaghanman Clem McMahon when he steered his eight-year-old gelding Valentino to claim the coveted seven to eight-year-old International Jumping competition at the Failte Ireland Dublin Horse Show yesterday.
Irish breeders have long lost their hold on the top-end of the international horse market, but McMahon is one of the growing number of well-informed new-generation producers who know what is needed to bring Ireland's reputation back to what it once was.
"We need to focus totally on performance -- too many stallions, which are not just perfect, are not passed for breeding but not all great jumping horses are perfect models. if a horse has a great jumping technique and produces good results at the highest level that should make him eligible to breed. Our system in Ireland is flawed," Mr McMahon said.
He bought his winning ride as a five-year-old and the Belgian-bred horse left a class field in his wake when claiming yesterday's honours.
"I took him slowly until last year, when he won here at the horse show and he was fourth in the International Grand Prix at Balmoral in Belfast earlier this year. He might just be good enough to get me back on the Irish team," he added.
McMahon comes from a family steeped in the horse tradition. His late father was a legendary character and his mother, Maureen, runs the successful McMahon Horse Transport company while his wife, Stacey, has a company called Tailored Equestrian, which provides bespoke equestrian clothing. It's a family affair.
And he thinks his other good ride, the seven-year-old Willy Wonty, which has been winning all around this summer, could also help him on his way back into the Irish set-up.
He said yesterday that "in general the quality isn't there" when it comes to Irish horses and that it could take 12 years for Ireland to make a real impact on the international horse sales market again.