20th Apr 2017
Another busy month rolls on by with plenty going on both in and out of the stud. Spring is here well and truly, only requiring one jacket now to venture outdoors. All the stock on the property are enjoying the lush growth of grass this quality land can provide due to its exceptional soil fertility. It makes our job easier having to feed less and let nature run its course. Like New Zealand, Ireland’s climate can change at a blink of an eye. Sunny one day with snow the next. We were treated to one white day (pictured). We’re over the half way mark for mares foaled and are well on our way in getting them back in foal for next year. A credit to all involved, both horses and staff. This month’s placements around the stud included stallions, mare and foal yards (Black Cherry and Kildare) and Maddenstown (dry mares). A variation of duties ensuring your weeks aren’t repetitive and are covering all corners of the farm. I’m enjoying my work in all the yards, but one is a stand out from the rest in my opinion and that is Maddenstown (no offence to other yard foremen reading this, you’re all awesome!). The yard foreman, Eimear, is the reason behind the enjoyment due to her top class managing skills. With 60 or more dry mares in one place, it can get a bit crazy at times but she always manages to hold the team together and get the job done with her sense of humour playing a large part in the enjoyment.
After a hard days graft in this yard you’ve always got a job to look forward too. That is to feed the most prized possessions of the stud, the Fallabella miniature horses. Within the trio lies a rock superstar in his prime, the one and only, Rod Stewart. Everybody’s favourite can be seen pictured here.
I was also fortunate enough to be sent to an outside covering with a dry mare to HH The Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud, to visit Born to Sea. A regally bred son of Invincible Spirit out of the Blue Hen mare, Urban Sea, who is a part of the illustrious group that have left 5 or more Group 1 winners including Sea the Stars (who stands alongside Born to Sea at Gilltown) and the world’s leading sire, Galileo. Like his maternal brothers, I’m sure he has every chance of being influential at stud being by a leading sire of sires and possessing the looks of a champion in the making.
March hosts the extremely popular National Hunt Cheltenham festival in England. The second largest jumps meeting of the year in terms of prize money, to none other than the Grand National. I would say Cheltenham is the most talked about week for many jumps racing enthusiasts in Europe due to several Grade 1 races ran over the 14th-17th of March (Tuesday to Friday). The Irish lads within the course certainly would let you know how many days and counting it is until it starts. To make things more exciting we held a sweep stake for every race of each day. With much disgust to the people that actually follow the jumps meetings, I somehow ending up in second place taking home a reasonable collect with the Frenchman, Thomas Leffray coming out on top. He had a simple tactic when picking his horses and that was anything French-bred, he’d pick to win it. Either it was luck or France is ahead of the game in terms of breeding National Hunt horses. A hero of this festival, Quevega (French bred!), fittingly foaled down during the March month at the Irish National Stud. She became a legend over the jumps when winning the Grade 1 Champion Mares Hurdle a record six times at this festival. She gave birth to a cracking colt by Walk in the Park. Herself and the foal are the largest tourist magnets on the farm with every second person asking where they might find them.
Lectures have continued as per normal with the usual suspects taking us through our content preparing us for our end of year exam. Guest lecturers included Nessa Joyce (European Breeders Fund), Leo Powell (Irish Field), Mick Flanagan (International Bloodstock Agent), Dr Barbara Murphy (Equilume) and Gary O’Brien (Handicapping). A large variation this month, all being equally helpful to broadening my knowledge within these aspects of our brilliant industry.
No course trips in March to write about so it’ll have to be one of my own. The European Rugby Champions Cup made a return this month so we made an executive decision to head along into Dublin to support the boys in blue for their Quarterfinal match against the London Wasps (go on Leinster!). The Aviva Stadium seating a mere 75,000 was jam packed along with every pub in Dublin full to the brim. The atmosphere within the City was electric and at the game itself was nothing like I’ve experienced before. The passion and voice of the crowd made it impossible not to get involved. An attribute of the Irish I wish I could take home to all sports fans. Leinster would claim the match and head into the semi-finals. Final score 32-17. A special thanks to Christian Dodd for organising the day, Vincent Dodd for supplying the tickets and the lads that came for the journey.
Another hectic month around the corner but all is smooth sailing from here, being over halfway with the foaling. To end it on a huge positive, what about the NZ-breds taking the Sydney Autumn by storm once more. Fingers crossed Gingernuts keeps on dunking them! By the time you’ve read this I’m hoping he’s a trans Tasman derby winner.
Thanks for the support,