The Epsom Derby – the greatest test of a racehorse

The Epsom Derby – the greatest test of a racehorse

1st Jun 2017

The founder of the Irish National Stud – Colonel William Hall Walker – was a most eccentric man and during his Army days in India he became a keen astrologer.   Upon his return from the Colonial posting, he purchased the land here at Tully and created ‘Tully Stud’ along with the stunning Japanese Gardens.  The next mission was to begin populating the farm with the fashionable thoroughbred bloodlines of the day, but his breeding theories were a little different and revolved around the stars under which a horse was born.  Those constellations led him to decide if the foal was worth keeping to become a racehorse or if it should be sold at the the sales.

President Michael D Higgins unveils a sculpture of INS founder, Colonel Hall Walker, at our Centenary celebration

His peers of the time thought the model preposterous and he was scorned by the establishment.  However, against the odds, his theory actually proved incredibly successful and he became leading owner many times over the 15-year period in which he owned the stud.

Although breeder of many champions (including Sun Chariot who won the Fillies’ Triple Crown in 1942), perhaps his greatest triumph was to breed a horse called Minoru.  For this great Tully-bred racehorse enabled him to reach a social status that has simply never been surpassed.

In 1909, realising that Minoru had a live chance in the Epsom Derby (a race still today considered the greatest test of a racehorse), Hall Walker decided to lease the horse to the reigning British monarch of the day, King Edward VII .  The result?  An amazing victory for the King of England and one that has yet to be repeated. 

It’s true – despite many attempts – no British King or Queen has ever led in a Derby winner since.

That piece of history was created here on our stud farm, which Colonel Hall Walker subsequently gifted to the people of Ireland in 1915.  Since that date, the stud has continued to flourish and remains one of the world’s leading thoroughbred farms.
This Saturday afternoon the people of London will stop the clock to watch the Epsom Derby.  Thousands will witness a distinct array of top class horses, trainers, jockeys and owners – many of whom were nurtured or even hail from these shores – all playing their parts of excellence upon this world stage.

Ireland truly is home of the horse.  To find out more about our contribution to world class thoroughbred breeding, book your visit this summer.

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