11th May 2017
Following the historic visit of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2015, we were delighted to accept the opportunity to host The Duchess during their subsequent visit to Ireland this year. The Duchess is familiar with the horse world in Ireland, having been a frequent visitor over the years and it was wonderful that we were able to welcome her to the Irish National Stud, almost exactly six years after the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
This year the emphasis was slightly changed as the Royal visit coincides with a forum on the subject of Thoroughbred Welfare, so many of the visitors who were on site, are those active in the field of welfare, charity and care of animals, veterinary surgeons and owners and trainers.
The Duchess was introduced to a representative sample of our international students; we currently have twenty five students on our Stud Management Programme from nine different countries. The Duchess met with Cameron Ring from New Zealand, Damien Fitton from Australia, Michael Balaz from Canada, Anya Shroff from India, Thomas Wainwright and William McNeile from the UK.
The Duchess was also introduced to our Living Legends, five retired racehorses who graced the racecourses of Ireland and England in their prime and are now seeing out their retirement as tourist attractions here with us – most notably Hurricane Fly and Hardy Eustace – multiple Grade 1 winners and champions.
Art is also a major theme throughout our stud and The Duchess was introduced to some of the talented artists who have created many of the wonderful sculptures that can be spotted throughout the gardens and lawns.
The centrepiece of a tourist visit here is actually the starting point of our guided tours – a stunning sculpture commemorating our founder, Colonel William Hall Walker. The life-size bronze of the visionary, was commissioned by the Irish National Stud to mark our centenary in 2015. Entrusted to Dublin-based expressionist, Bob Quinn whose work is celebrated throughout Ireland, the sculpture is typical of Bob’s work in evoking the character of the man with a hint of humour. Bob was on hand to meet The Duchess and explain how it came to be.
We were also glad to receive Anthony Scott who commissioned the sculpture which was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 2011. We also have a project underway which will celebrate our Champion Sire Invincible Spirit and sculptor Simon Carman was present to explain to The Duchess how he hopes to create an image of Invincible Spirit in limestone which has never been tried before!
The speakers at the seminar were introduced to The Duchess and included veterinary surgeon Michael Sheahan MVB from the Department of Agriculture, Peter Webbon MRVCS, Sharon Newsome (Irish Horse Welfare Trust) and Diana Cooper who is the IFAR (The International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses) project leader, representing HH Sheikh Mohammed’s Falcon and Associates.
On her departure, The Duchess was presented with a 35 year old Bonsai Irish Birch tree by the Chairman of The Irish National Stud Matt Dempsey.