Sunday 18 March 2018

And they're off... race is on for successor to ageing Invincible Spirit

The Duchess Of Cornwall with Invincible Spirit and Daffer Kelly at the National Stud in May.
Photo: Caroline Norris
The Duchess Of Cornwall with Invincible Spirit and Daffer Kelly at the National Stud in May. Photo: Caroline Norris
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The name 'Invincible Spirit' would suggest the Irish National Stud's prize stallion could go on fathering racing champions forever.

But the horse - who's been visited by royalty - is getting older and Department of Agriculture officials have flagged the "ever-pressing" need to find his successor.

That's not to say there's not life in the 20-year-old stallion yet. The briefing for Agriculture Minister Michael Creed also says the flagship sire's fee was raised to €120,000 last year from €100,000.

That's on the back of "another strong year" for his racing offspring.

However, the officials said the need to reinvest in stallion prospects to find a successor for Invincible Spirit "becomes ever-pressing" as he gets older.

Invincible Spirit was the star attraction when Queen Elizabeth visited the Irish National Stud (INS) in 2011.

The organisation recently announced before-tax profits of €3.9m for last year, up from €2.5m in 2015, with the improvement "largely attributable to Invincible Spirit", according its annual report.

The agriculture officials said the INS wants to develop the tourism and education aspects of the business so it can increase revenue from non-bloodstock related activity.

This diversification strategy is said to be supported "in attempting to establish a consistent, sustainable and long-term profitability stream following the retirement of Invincible Spirit".

INS chief executive Cathal Beale told the Irish Independent that it's very difficult to quantify when a stallion will be retired, saying it depends on their health and continued fertility. "Fortunately Invincible Spirit continues to tick both boxes and there are no immediate plans to retire," he said.

He said that the stallion will become more susceptible to health and fertility impacting on his career as he continues to get older.

In relation to plans to develop tourism and education facilities, Mr Beale pointed out that the INS gets more than 120,000 visitors a year and it will continue to upgrade its tourism facilities.

He also referred to its stud management course, which has seen more than 1,000 graduates since 1971 and he said the INS is committed to the development of its education output.

He said he is confident that the organisation's success will continue after Invincible Spirit's eventual retirement, saying the business has prospered for more than a hundred years and has "stood the test of time".

Irish Independent

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