Irish National Stud 50: Half a century of Osborne’s vision celebrated (Extract from Irish Field)

Irish National Stud 50: Half a century of Osborne’s vision celebrated (Extract from Irish Field)

6th Apr 2021

In 1971, the Irish National Stud at Tully was home to five stallions. The new boy on the block was Lord Gayle. A son of Sir Gaylord, Lord Gayle had been purchased at the end of the previous year for £125,000, and he was offered to breeders at an initial fee of £850. Bred at Newstead Farm in Virginia, he was twice successful as a three-year-old at Saratoga before being sent to be trained by Fred Armstrong. He gained his biggest success in the Prix Perth at Saint-Cloud, and retired to stud as the winner of eight races, six of them as a five-year-old. In the stallion boxes at Tully he joined the leading sprinter Tudor Music, the classic winner Linacre, undefeated juvenile Whistling Wind, and the Irish St Leger winner, in the hands of apprentice Frank Berry, Giolla Mear. The last-named was priced at 140gns, Linacre and Whistling Wind both commanded a fee of 400gns, while Tudor Music was the most expensive stallion at £1,000. Veterinary surgeon Michael Osborne was the manager then of the Irish National Stud, and in 1971 he started a course that was to instantly gain worldwide acclaim, and over the course of the next half a century see many of its alumni go on to become among the most influential people in the worlds of thoroughbred breeding and racing.


 History now relates that the first group of students, numbering 35, as the biggest annual intake. As it was something new, it is no surprise to learn that 33 of that first crop came from Ireland, Patrick Campbell from New Zealand and Marianne Luthi from Switzerland being the only overseas enrolments. The group contained just five female students. In fact it was only in year four that there was the first growth in numbers of students from abroad, five students from Britain, France the USA and Japan making up almost a quarter of that year’s group of 21 trainees. Students Roll forward to last year, the 50th group to graduate from the course, and doing so in the strangest of times with Covid-19 disrupting not just the course at the Irish National Stud, but the world being affected by the most serious pandemic in living memory. Nonetheless, before the world was shut down, 27 students had gathered in Co Kildare. Now it was a case of Irish students being in the minority, just 10 of the course members being local. The remaining 17 travelled from New Zealand (2), Britain (5), France (4), the USA (2), and one each from Canada, Germany, South Africa and Australia. Irish students have made up the greatest percentage of students over the 50 years of the course, while Australia, Britain, France, New Zealand and the USA have all sent large numbers of young men and women to the course. Every leading thoroughbred country in the world has by now probably been represented at some time by a student. The full list, in addition to those already mentioned, also includes Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, China, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, India, Iran, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.

Last year’s class brought to 1,191 the total number of students who had entered the gates of the Irish National Stud to embark on the stud course, some 30% of whom travelled to this country to participate. Over the next 25 weeks or so this column will revisit many of the 50 classes that have graduated from the course, catch up with graduates and speak to some of the many people who have gone on to become leaders in the world of the thoroughbred on the global stage.


2021 course in full swing

IN January the 51st class of the Irish National Stud Thoroughbred Breeding Management Course began their work and studies in Tully. Anne Channon is the education development manager for the course, a role she took on a couple of years ago following the retirement of Sally Carroll. Once again, the course participants, numbering 24 in all, represent a great spread of experience and background in the bloodstock world. It also celebrates a new first, as Normarie Santiago Cruz from Puerto Rico is the first student from that country to participate. In November the board of the Gerry Dilger Equine Scholarship Foundation announced that she was the first recipient of one of three annual scholarships. The scholarships are awarded to promote and encourage young people as they embark on a career in the bloodstock industry. Normarie was selected to receive funding and assistance to enable her to travel to Ireland and enrol in the Irish National Stud course in Kildare. She is a former KEMI student, and is pursuing a degree in Animal Science at the University of Puerto Rico. Gerry Dilger was famous for his work over many years to encourage and inspire young people through his Dromoland Farm nursery in Lexington, Kentucky. Gerry died in March, 2020 at the age of just 61. Two years before his death he was honoured by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association with their Wild Geese Award, and it is safe to say that few individuals left their mark on the thoroughbred world in Kentucky like Gerry did. He embodied all that the INS course founder, Michael Osborne, wished for in its graduates. “Normarie’s profile and personality was exactly what Gerry looked for, and helped nurture in a young person seeking further knowledge and life experience in the horse business,” Gerry’s wife Erin remarked at the announcement of the scholarship in November. “Her spirit embodies Gerry’s vision, and we know she genuinely appreciates and will embrace this deserved opportunity. The foundation is extremely grateful to the Irish National Stud for their support of this scholarship as Gerry himself was a 1977 graduate of its course.” Normarie stated: “I’m very thankful and excited to receive the Gerry Dilger Equine Scholarship. I feel very lucky and blessed to have this opportunity to visit Ireland, and work in the equine industry. This type of experience is not available in Puerto Rico.” The class of 2021, in addition to Normarie, comprises Patrick Campion (USA), Shea Connolly (Ireland), Marianne Gay (France), Hortense Huet (France), Suzanne Hyland (Ireland), Sarah Kelly (Ireland), Eathan Leonard (Ireland), Conor Mahon (Ireland), Olivia Marnane (Ireland), Hannah Moriarty (USA), Alexis Navet (France), Mairead O’Riordan (Ireland), George Prince (Britain), Lauren Robinson (Ireland), Mehdi Saci (France), Jake Scott Campbell (Ireland), Ben Shoare (Britain), Charlie Sweeney (Ireland), Niamh Walshe (Ireland), Elinor Wolf (USA), Nathan Trumper from New Zealand who is the recipient of the NZTBA scholarship, and Lachlan Pethica and Alyssa Pickles from Australia who are both recipients of the Thoroughbred Breeders Australia-Basil Nolan Jnr scholarship.


Extract from the Irish Field by Leo Powell 26th march 2021

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