Proud moment as stud showcases its best
THE equine industry was celebrating massive worldwide exposure last night after the visit of Queen Elizabeth to the Irish National Stud.
The event drew famous jockeys, Cheltenham-winning trainers, master farriers, bloodstock agents, thoroughbred stud owners and racing officials.
Irish National Stud chief John Osborne said the queen -- a well-regarded breeder of racehorses -- had enjoyed inspecting the stallions.
"It is probably the biggest viewership we had for any event ever," Mr Osborne said on the potential impact of the visit.
"We are trying to showcase the Irish industry and particularly the emergence of young people as talented players in this industry -- and everybody recognises that worldwide.
"Wherever you go, wherever there is bloodstock, the Irish are at the forefront of it."
The queen also met the woman who identified the elusive "speed gene" in thoroughbreds. Dr Emmeline Hill made the scientific discovery by analysing DNA related to muscle development.
"She was very tuned in to what was going on," said Dr Hill.
"She said, 'We have only had pedigrees to go on until now', which I thought was very sharp to be able to respond immediately like that."
Carlow-based trainer Willie Mullins also met the queen among a band of select Cheltenham-winning trainers, including Waterford-based Henry de Bromhead and Mouse Morris.
Mr Mullins emphasised the UK market was the most important customer for Irish-bred National Hunt horses.
"It is great that we could showcase where most of the horses come from in a good light," he said. "Especially now when we are probably feeling the pinch from the amount of horses that the French are selling to them."
Top jockey Johnny Murtagh said: "I've met the queen on a few occasions at Royal Ascot and Epsom but to meet her here in Ireland at the Irish National Stud was a very proud moment for me."
Keith Rowe, the director of RACE, was accompanied by four young potential jockeys from the FAS course.
Mr Rowe explained that young jockey Kieran O'Neill (20), from Kildare, rode the queen's horse, Countermarch, to win at Wolverhampton in March.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said the industry was facing significant challenges but it would be prioritised as an employer of 17,000 people that delivered exports to the value of €150m last year.
Later today the queen will visit Coolmore Stud in Co Tipperary.